My First Teaching Job
From the time I was ten years old my one goal in life was to become a teacher. This goal was realized in 1937, when I obtained a teacher's certificate after completing two years at Caney Junior College (now Alice Lloyd College), at Pippa Passes, Kentucky, in Knott County.
My first school was the Mud Lick School, on Hunting Creek, in Breathitt County. I was only 20 years old when school started in July. You can imagine my fear when the crowd started assembling for the first day of school. There was around 25 children and their parents. To add to my fear, I looked out the window and saw French Holbrook, one of Breathitt County's supervising teachers, walking toward the school. I shall always be thankful for his visit. He told me he knew I was a beginning teacher and that he wanted to help me get organized. He certainly did that. I still have many fond memories of that day, getting acquainted with a great group of children and their parents. I am especially thankful for French Holbrook's help, not only that day, but through the whole school year.
I was lucky to find a place to board. I stayed
with Daily and Bessie Roark and my great-aunt, Mary Roark. They
treated me like royalty. They only charged me $8 per month. I
only made $75 a month. Believe me that was a lot of money to
me. School lasted only seven months. It started in July and ended
After completing that school term, I was convinced that I had made the right choice. I taught for 42 years and substituted for 11 more.
Now I am working on another goal: finishing some of the goals of which Wardie, my late husband, and I dreamed of. Those dreams are connected with the Memory Hill Foundation, at Caney, Kentucky, in Morgan County.
I was only eight years old when my grandmother, Fannie Tucker, died in January of 1937. I barely remember her, but now that I am only a little older than she was when she died, I have a strong urge to put together a "picture" of her from information which I have gleaned through the years.
She was born Francis Mitchell Hopper on February 21, 1868, in Perryville, Kentucky. She was the seventh of ten children born to Joseph Hamilton Hopper and Mary Barzilla Mitchell. (I have birth record pages from a family Bible.) The first child, Charles, had died in 1861 at the age of five, and when my grandmother was born, she had five older brothers and sisters: Margaret, age ten; John, age seven; Harvey Nelson, age six; Emma, age four; and Rosa, age two. She was three years old when another brother was born, Walter Owsley. When she was five, a sister was born, but died shortly after birth. She was eight years old when the last child was born, Joseph Howerton.
No doubt she was christened as a baby, being part of a strong Presbyterian family. When she was 13, she united with the Perryville Presbyterian Church. She was a devout member for the rest of her life. Her religious faith was not surprising in light of her background. Her great-grandfather, Blag-grove Hopper, had been a Baptist preacher, first in Tennessee and then in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. Her grandfather, Joseph Hopper, Sr., who married Margaret Crow, was reared in that religious belief, and she was likely influenced by it. I know nothing about the religious faith, or lack of it; of Joseph and Margaret after they married; or what early influences were present for their son, Joseph Hamilton. Margaret died when Joseph Hamilton was only nine years old, and Joseph, Sr. then married Mary Jane Dunlop. Perhaps she brought the Presbyterian influence into young Joseph Hamilton's life, for at age 13, he united with the Presbyterian Church of Lancaster, Kentucky, where he had been born. At age 16, he was a deacon there, and at age 21, he was a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in Perryville. It was in Perryville that he met and married Mary Barzilla Mitchell, who was of a strong Presbyterian family. (I find it interesting to note that their names were Mary and Joseph, but they were commonly known as Uncle Joe and Aunt Molly.) My grandmother was 28 years old when her father, Uncle Joe, was ordained into the Presbyterian ministry, at age 67, but all those years had been spent in a family of faith. I am sure church attendance was normal, and I imagine that daily family devotions were part of grandmother's growing-up years.
I wish I knew more about my grandmother's early childhood days. I assume she was born at home, in the house her parents had built in Perryville in 1 864. I can imagine there might have been a fenced-in backyard where she, Rosa, and Walter could play. Those three must have been good playmates, since they were so close in age. I wonder where she went to school, what pets she had, what books she read as a young girl, what needlework she learned to do, which chores she helped with, whether she was musically inclined, and so on. I have a photo taken of her when she about 10 or 11 years old. It is in a small leatherette photo album given to me by Kathryn Bruce, one of her sister's (Rosa) daughters. There are photos of all her brothers and sisters as well.
I have no more photos of her until she was about 26 or 27 years old. I have an undated picture of the four sisters, Margaret, Emma, Fannie, and Rosa. I judge it to have been taken about 1894-95. In 1896 when she was 28, her mother and the four sisters were invited to a millinery opening. I have that invitation among my keepsakes. I also have the title page of a Bible given to her by her father that year. The next photo I have of her might have been taken about 1896-97. She looks to be about 28 or 29 years old.
Her grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Adams Mitchell, went to live with the Hopper family about 1889, and stayed with them until her death in 1899. This added another dimension of influence into Fannie's life. Perhaps, she learned much about the Adams and Mitchell families, who had been early pioneers in Kentucky. I have a group photo taken of my grandmother, her mother, her grandmother Mitchell, her three sisters, and three of her brothers. She would have been about 30 years old then, and still unmarried. I wonder if she had boyfriends as a young girl. She was very pretty, and surely young men would have been attracted to her. As I look at these photos, I see where I might have gotten my thin and fine hair.
Her father had operated a shoe and boot business,
from perhaps the 1850s until his church work got heavier. It
is reasonable to think that all of the children were outfitted
in shoes from that store, as long as he was in business. Some
of my photos show that the girls had lovely dresses, as they
got older, and I can imagine that a dressmaker came to their
home and sewed for days or weeks. What an exciting time that
must have been!
In June of 1903, her parents celebrated their "Golden Wedding Anniversary." Surely she was busy helping clean and decorate the house and preparing the food for that big event. I have a photo taken of all the Hopper family that day. I am fascinated by a newspaper write-up that described the celebration and listed the guests present. One of the guests was Orville Tucker, whom Fannie would marry a year later. At the time of the wedding anniversary celebration, Orville was a widower, and his deceased wife had been a cousin of Fannie's. He was 49 years old, and Fannie was 35. I cannot but help wondering if he "set his cap" for her that day. They were married on June 22, 1904, at the Hopper home. I have a small piece of lace from her wedding dress, and I wear her wide gold wedding band, inscribed "O.T. to Fannie."
As the new bride of a widower, my grandmother
immediately became the stepmother of Orville's six children,
two of whom still lived at home with them: Tobin, age about 15
or so, and Mabel, age 11.
I have photos of the old farmhouse where the family lived from about 1905 to 1937, and a few pictures of both Fannie and Orville. I have wondered what kind of husband he was to her. Uncle George once described my grandfather as about six feet, two or three inches tall; and stern with not much foolishness about him. He liked to stay home and was in good health until his last four or five years, when he suffered with stomach ulcers or cancer. Uncle George said he would go occasionally with Fannie to church. I imagine she was disappointed that it was only occasionally, and even though he united with the Presbyterian Church in December 1903, not long before they married, I don't know anything about his faith or whether he had a personal relationship with Christ. One newspaper write-up of their wedding noted that their motto was "Each for the other and both for God." No doubt my religious grandmother would have chosen that, and I can hope that my grandfather fully agreed. Is it a coincidence that when Donn and I married, a friend sent us a card with that same phrase on it?
I also have newspaper clippings describing their fifth wedding anniversary. Obviously, it was a merry gathering, with 60 guests enjoying "ice cream, sherbet, and cake." Since they lived on a farm, work was surely hard, but they also experienced many happy times.
My grandfather's children from his first marriage probably visited the farm often. His daughter, Mabel, and her daughter, Francis, even lived with them for sometime after Mabel divorced her husband. I have photos of my grandfather with some of the grandchildren. I was told recently that my grandmother was sometimes called "Big Mam-my" by these grandchildren, and then by their children in later years. All my photos of her after her marriage show that she had "put on flesh" as some of the family described weight gain. A cousin recently told me she remembered her pretty, snow white hair.
Family reunions must have been very important to my grandmother and all her Hopper kin. I have photos of an early one in 1923, with her sisters, Rosa and Emma, there; and the two doctor brothers, Walter and Howard.
On December 3, 1925, my grandfather died at home, at age 70. This was seven months after my mother had graduated from high school, and she had probably already gone to work in Louisville. What a sad Christmas it must have been for my grandmother. In February there was a public auction of farm animals and tools, as well as a lot of household goods. I can well imagine the hurt this caused her. Uncle George was only 17 then and still in high school, so perhaps my grandmother had to give up most of the farming endeavor even while she and George continued to live at the homeplace. I have a letter written from my grandmother to my mother in which she says, "Seems like I will never get over grieving for Papa. I miss him every day."
But life went on for her. My mother married in 1927. Uncle George graduated from high school in 1928 and married Elizabeth Harmon in 1930. In a newspaper write-up, he was described as "a prosperous farmer." Obviously, he had resumed the farming work after graduation. He and Aunt Elizabeth lived with my grandmother on the homeplace for two or three years, and for awhile her sister, Emma, lived there, too. My grandmother was used to having a full house! Sometime between 1933-34, she and Emma moved to an apartment in Perryville. In 1936 my grandmother developed breast cancer, and she moved back with Uncle George and Aunt Elizabeth and took cancer treatments in Louisville. I was seven years old then. In 1937 she stayed in Louisville with her sister, Rosa, while Uncle George tore down the old farmhouse and started building a new house. She returned home before it was completely finished, took pneumonia, and died at age 68. Her last few years were probably years of much pain. Her sister, Rosa, and daughters were unable to attend her funeral due to the big flood of 1937. Her obituary described her as "a good Christian woman with a gentle manner and good deeds." She and my grandfather are buried in Hillcrest Cemetery in Perryville. Her children are all buried there, as well as most of her Hopper family.
I have only one photo of my grandmother and me together. I was a baby, and she is holding me in her arms. I wish I could remember that. I also have a little prayer notebook of hers. She had listed my daddy and my mother as her prayer concerns and had added in the words "and baby." What a precious thing to know that she prayed for me!
I wish I could have known her better, but I am grateful for the understanding I have come to have about her as I have engaged in this writing.
I have written this not only for myself, but also for our sons, their wives, and their children. I hope they will appreciate the heritage left to them by Frances Mitchell Hopper Tucker and have some feeling of "knowing" her.
Joan Baldwin Leach
The town of Bonanza is located seven miles from the county seat of Prestonsburg, in Floyd County, on Abbott Creek. It was called Bonanza, because it was a boomtown around the turn of the 20th century, and Abbott Creek was thought to have been settled shortly after the Revolutionary War.
Some early Bonanza families were: Conley, May, Meade, Merritt, Miller, Hackworth, Hill, Howell, Hopkins, Hereford, Hatcher, Harmon, Baldridge, Brown, Woods, Burke, Music, Caudill, Dotson, Neeley, Osborne, Frasure, Elliott, Robinson, Webb, and Snipes.
The Bonanza Post Office was established January 31, 1881. Around the turn of the century the community began to develop into a thriving village. There were four general stores, a hotel, two gristmills, and two blacksmith shops. The town had boarded sidewalks, two churches, a school, and three fraternal orders: the Masons, Odd Fellows, and the Red Men. A narrow railroad was later built up Abbott Creek to what is known today as Mining Branch.
A major factor contributing to Bonanza's growth was its location along the best route for timber hauling and freight hauling; from the Upper Licking River Valley, to a railhead at Richardson and (later) White-house, then to a steamboat landing at the mouth of Abbott Creek.
With the help of the Caney Creek Community Center (forerunner of Alice Lloyd College) in Knott County, the Bonanza High School was built and opened in 1930. With the coming of school buses the high school was consolidated into the Prestonsburg school system, and in 1932 the high school was converted to a grade school. The grade school finally closed after the 1987-88 school year, with my aunt, Loretta Hackworth, being one of the last teachers there (she taught from 1970 to 1988). I still remember how school kids lined up on the sidewalk to say the "Pledge Of Allegiance" to the flag. I can hear the running of feet on the wooden floors of the school, and I recall the many ballgames played in the yard.
With the coming of the railroad to the Big Sandy Valley and construction of the highways, the boomtown began to fade. Adding to this problem was the reduction in timber trade. With that decline, the fraternal orders soon became inactive, and as a result, were consolidated into chapters and lodges within the county seat.
Improved transportation soon reduced the need for the hotel and general stores. The last country store was operated by Doug and Linda Frasure, and it closed in the late 1980s.
The post office was closed July 18, 1969.
All that remains of the original community are the United Baptist Church, which was organized November 7, 1867; the Bonanza Freewill Baptist Church (1948); the old school building; and a few of the old homes remain with newer ones being built.
Over the lifetime of this community, Bonanza has contributed to Kentucky history three medical doctors, two dentists, four lawyers, one Secretary of State, one state representative, and two judges (including a Chief Justice of Kentucky's highest court). There are probably others, who are not mentioned here.
Robie G. Prater, Jr.
Mr. Reed Davis was a rural mail carrier in the Salem Community from May 1, 1925, until October 31, 1961, a period of over 36 years. In an interview with Gary Ketter of the Paducah Sun Democrat in November 1961, Mr. Davis stated that he wore out ten cars, a truck, a jeep, a station wagon, several buggies and quite a few horses during those years. He almost became a legend in this area, because of his devotion to his patrons and the hardships he suffered. In the earlier days the roads were dirt, very difficult, and sometimes almost impossible in the winter months, but he managed to deliver and pick up all mail on his route. He could have retired six years before he did, but had a desire to work until age 70, then learned he was suffering from lung cancer.
Mr. Davis grew up in Lola in Livingston County, the son of Amry and Addie Tyner Davis. He was drafted into WWI, while employed in Tilden, Illinois, in a coal camp. He served 13 months in England and France in 1918-19 in a light field artillery company. He sent home a French .75 caliber shell that he had made into a lamp, and he prized a walking cane that was decorated with coins he collected in other countries.
After his return from service he married Ruby Williams of Lola, and in 1925 took a Civil Service Examination and was appointed as one of two mail carriers for the Salem Post Office. They moved to Salem and reared eight children there, five of whom are still living. Harold and Melva both reside out of state, Margaret and Irene are in or near Paducah, and Marlene is still in Livingston County. Parvin and Talmage are both deceased, and Max was killed in Korea in 1950.
The Davis family and my family were neighbors. I grew up with the older children, and we have remained friends all through the years. Mr. and Mrs. Davis were kind and gentle people. I am sure his long hours on the route made it difficult for Miss Ruby to rear eight children, but she did it quite well.
In my first memory of the family, sometime just prior to 1930, they were living at the intersection of what is now Alley Lane and Highway 60; in a large, old, brick house, known as the Linley house. Later they built the house nearby, now owned by Jerry D. Wilson. It is located on the highway on the hill across from the Deer Lakes Golf Course. They lived there until Mr. Reed died in 1962, and Miss Ruby in 1966.
At the time Mr. Davis started his 24-mile route, the narrow dirt country lanes were almost impossible in bad weather. He started out with a team and buggy and a 1925 Model-A Ford. He began his 10 to 13-hour day, six days weekly at 5:30 a.m., having to carry a flashlight to read names on the mail boxes. He carried several straps of mail in mail bags regularly, but at Christmas the mail was heavy and many packages had to be delivered on foot, as there was no road to some of the houses, but he believed that he never failed to deliver anything.
Mr. Reed loved the horses that he had to rely so heavily on. One, in particular, "Old Mark," a pretty bay horse with three white feet, was almost a member of the family. He purchased him when he was three years old and kept him the remaining 20 years of his life. He used this horse to train the others that he drove. Sometimes the mud would be so bad that he would leave a buggy, place all of the harnesses on Mark and tell him to go home, and he would ride the other horse and finish the route much faster.
One summer the horses were pastured just across the creek from our house. Miss Reba Smith, circuit court clerk, spent a weekend with me, and we wanted to ride, but I had only one saddle horse, so I went out and caught Mark and rode him. Reba and I rode way back in the country, and I let Mark walk over some barbed wire, and he cut his ankle. I took him to a nearby house, and Mr. Charlie Glore stopped the blood and bandaged the ankle. We went home, and Dad cleaned and treated the wound and turned him out. How I dreaded going to tell Mr. Reed. But he gently told me Mark would be all right, just tell Dad to check on him in a couple of days. The ankle healed quickly, but it took me awhile.
Mr. Reed learned his first winter on the route that it was better to fight the cold by walking and keeping circulation going than to go in and get warm. He made the mistake of going in and warming at the Clement Nelson home once. He went back out, suffered a chill, and a severe cold followed.
He could tell many funny or sad things that happened. Once he was out in a big rain and had to cross Holeman Branch near Salem to deliver a box of shoes. The branch was up on the sides of the buggy, and when he looked around, the shoe box was floating gently down stream. He stepped out in waist-deep water and with a long sycamore branch retrieved it, but did not deliver it that day. He took the box to the post office and placed it before the stove and delivered it the next day. Water had not penetrated the box, so the shoes were dry. The patron never knew about it.
He brought in the mail one day, and when the postmaster was going through it he handed him a letter addressed to "Miny Aples Soda" and asked if he thought that was a letter or a grocery list. After thinking it over for awhile, they mailed it to Minneapolis, Minnesota and hoped it was right. I believe the postmaster at that time was Hendrix Mitchell.
Another instance Mr. Davis recalled, when talking with Mr. Ketter, was once just before Christmas he picked up a small piece of paper from a mailbox with some things scribbled on it, in the form of a letter to Santa Clause. He and the postmaster talked it over, and knowing the family and knowing the father of this small boy had been out of work for a long time, they each decided to buy half the things on the list. That little boy had a nice Christmas that year.
It seemed that Jennings Road and Potter Hill were the worst two nightmares on the route. The mud on Jennings Road would get so heavy that it was almost impossible after rain. Potter Hill was long, crooked, steep, and the hardest place in the county to travel. I can remember in later years Mr. Reed carrying a wench that he would tie to trees to move the car when he got hung up.
He always said that he owed a lot of credit to Mr. Leonard Mitchell and Mr. Richard Vaughn, two men who were on his route. He said they always seemed to be around when he got into trouble and needed help. They just seemed to be in the right place at the right time. About the worst day he could remember was a snow in 1960, when the drifts were so high it banked up on the car and caused the radiator to overheat.
The hard work and trying times that Mr. Reed experienced never seemed to change his calm personality. He was a good father, and he seemed to enjoy his children and all their friends. He died at age 66, just a little over two months after retirement.
Remembrances from the first decade of my life are all centered in and around Horse Cave, Hart County, Kentucky. Although it was only briefly that we lived on the eastern edge of the Horse Cave's 1932 downtown Main Street, that part of the town is especially vivid in my memory.
Back then there was a soda fountain at downtown's eastern edge, on the south side of Main. My family was just barely managing to live through the Great Depression, but someone bought me a fountain Coca Cola one day at that soda fountain, and somehow I managed to come up with a nickel for an ice cream cone once or twice. This was at a time after the great stock market plunge and before President Franklin D. Roosevelt had time to work his "New Deal" to bring the country out of the pits.
That soda fountain is not the business I recall most fondly, however.
Across the street, on a northeast corner, was Main Street's last store, before you began passing residences on your way to the Jackson Highway, U. S. 31 E., after you went by the cemetery on the left and then Payton's Hatchery on the right.
That last store on the eastern edge of the town's downtown was Skagg's and Carver's. For a brief time, I lived on the second story over that store with my parents, Sam and Pearl Lively; my sister, Pauline; and my brothers, Sam and Paul.
That small general store carried groceries and, as I remember quite well, a good supply of penny candy. It was run by two kindly gentlemen, who could be found either in the store or in front of it.
Mr. Carver, I remember as a rather heavyset man whose face resembled somewhat that of Herbert Hoover, but whose face was ruddier. My recollection of him includes the hat he always had on his head and the galluses that he wore instead of a belt. He was almost as taciturn as Calvin Coolidge.
Mr. Skaggs was a kindly-visaged, mustached man, who always wore an apron, sometimes green eyeshades, and whose good humor was not ruffled by his palsied shaking.
Both were patient when I stood long in front of the glass candy showcase, holding my penny tightly and trying to make up my mind. More often than not, when the penny finally changed hands, I went out with a nickel's worth of candy.
I recall standing in front of that store or standing on the steps that led up to our apartment the morning of May 24, 1932, and telling everyone who came by, old friends and strangers alike, "Do you know what? Today is my birthday. I'm six years old today." I wish I could come up with an effective fundraising line as that today. By noon I had enough nickels, dimes, and pennies to buy candy for myself and my siblings. I suspect, however, some of that "loot" helped Mom and Dad buy groceries for us that day.
My dad, Sam Hatcher Lively, was born October 1, 1900, fifth of ten children of William Leonard "Len" Lively (1867-1945), descendants of slave owners, but good friends of the Livelys, who descended from the family slaves. My dad was born and grew up on the Lively farm.
The Lively farm was on rocky soil above some of the Kentucky cave country's most beautiful underground. Mammoth Onyx Cave (now known as Kentucky Down Under/Kentucky Caverns), part of which is under the old Lively farm, is still today a tourist attraction, the Lively name appearing on a historical marker near its front entrance.
I've not dug into genealogical research, but I know that Granddad was the son of James Benjamin Lively (1848-1879), son of William C. Lively (born 1809), son of Cannon Lively (born 1780). Granddad and Mammy are buried in the Horse Cave Cemetery, the other three progenitors in the Lively Cemetery on the farm.
In 1940, when I was 14, Granddad and Mammy celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary on the farm with their ten children and almost all their grandchildren. At that time there had not been a death in those four generations of the family, except for son-in-law, Clellie Hatcher, Aunt Leah's first husband.
All during my childhood Granddad was a retired farmer, and they lived in a large, two-story white house on Main Street, just a short distance east of downtown in Horse Cave. My first cousin, Gladys, the third daughter of Aunt Leah, lived with them.
The thing I remember most about the house is the full-width front porches, one for the first floor and one on the second floor. Each was bounded on the three sides by a wooden bannister. On the first-floor porch there was a swing on which two or three people could sit, swing, and talk.
As the century ends, the house is still standing, but it has been renovated with a gleaming white front, featuring majestic two-story columns instead of the porches.
There I spent many happy childhood moments with my loving grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. There was plenty of them, my father being one of ten children.