Articles & Stories


Caney Creek Miracle Had Humble

Beginning 65 Years Ago

Memory Hill Museum In Morgan County Proudly

Preserves The History Of Eastern Kentucky


The lovely home and grounds of Memory Hill, which gained its name in memory of the many children with whom Wardie and Hazel Craft came in contact during their teaching. Located in Morgan County this is a popular tourist attraction in Eastern Kentucky. (Photo courtesy of Hazel Craft.)


Author's Note: In the March 2003 Kentucky Explorer, the miracle on Caney Creek at Pippa Passes in Knott County was presented. Following is the story of the other miracle on Caney Creek in Morgan County. As stated in the first article I was connected with two Caney Creeks. For two years, 1935-37, I was privileged to attend Caney Junior College on Caney Creek in Knott County, where I obtained a teacher's certificate. In 1938 I married Wardie Craft and moved to another Caney Creek in Morgan County, where the second miracle had its humble beginnings.

By Hazel Craft - 2003

In 1938 at a little Baptist church at Sharkey, Kentucky,
Wardie Craft and I were married by Elder Arnold
Castle after the Sunday service. An overflowing crowd was present. We then traveled to Morehead, where we caught a Greyhound bus for Washington, D. C., for almost a week's honeymoon. Believe it or not, we left with $200 and returned with $125. Any way, while exploring this grand old city we visited many museums. Wardie made the remark, "Wouldn't it be great if we could somehow, someway devote our lives to preserving history of our beloved Eastern Kentucky for future generations?" That's where the idea was conceived. From that day forward we worked toward this dream. We became regular pack rats, collecting and preserving many objects that would otherwise have been deposited in a trash dump.
For 65 years this miracle took place. So many of our friends and relatives came to our rescue and started donating toward our project. We now have in the big house a corner cupboard made by my great-grandfather, Isaac Back, and a step-back cupboard made by Wardie's great-grandfather, Isaac Back. They were first cousins. We also have a calendar clock that belonged to my great-grandfather, Silas Taulbee. I could ramble on and on of what this big house contains. You will have to come and see.


Now, when I wander through this big house, the log cabins and the ample space surrounding the large house, I bow my head in humble adoration for this miracle. Many tourists remark, "I have never visited another museum that has so much to offer." I have always said, "This place is a miracle," and I realize it more and more. Recently, I told our judge-executive, Tim Conley, that sometimes I get discouraged, then the thought comes to me that our efforts will not be in vain. Miracles have happened in the past and they will continue to happen.
This place gained its name, Memory Hill, in memory of the many children with whom we came in contact during our teaching years and the ones we reared in our home.
Wardie retired in 1969 after teaching 34 years. The last 14 years before his retirement he was principal of Cannel

This cabinet, dating back to 1670, is just one of the many pieces on display at Memory Hill. Memory Hill Foundation is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the collection, preservation, and exhibition of the historical, educational, and genealogical heritage of Morgan County.
(Photo courtesy of Hazel Craft.)


City School. I continued teaching 13 years. After Wardie's retirement he really started in earnest to fulfill his dreams. Eight log cabins were brought to Memory Hill from four counties: Morgan, Wolfe, Breathitt, and Magoffin. They were torn down, the logs were numbered and re-erected on the present Daniel Williams Park. Six cabins were furnished as a church, a school, a home, two museums, and a blacksmith shop. Two remain to be finished. A good samaritan, Richard Lewis of Flemingsburg, came our way. He wants to finish one of the cabins as a school to display a vast collection of Wardie's and my teaching years. The only problem is having money to furnish the materials. I have faith the money will be a reality and the project will be finished in 2003. As I said before, "Miracles do happen."
Along with the cabins two large memorials, one in memory of Elder Daniel Williams and the other in memory of Elder Daniel Duff, were erected. Many people report that 60% of Morgan Countians span from Elder Williams. Elder Duff was Wardie's great-great-grandfather. These two pious men preached together. Now their memories are located within sight of each other. What a struggle. Wardie collected the $16,000 for the Daniel Williams Memorial. This was made possible by having hundreds of names inscribed for $100 per line. At present we have four more names to be inscribed. After Clevenger Monument Company went out of business, the four names were turned over to the Shackelford Monument Company at Campton. Hopefully they will soon be inscribed. By the way, there is space for a few more names.
The Daniel Duff Memorial was made possible under the supervision of Tom Lykins of Olive Hill and other interested friends. The beautiful stones were donated by the Hagar and Lizzie Arnett family. They came from their warm house at Stacy Fork. Garlie Clevenger erected the tall Daniel Williams Memorial. In fact, Garlie was a friend in deed to Memory Hill. He was responsible for most of the monuments and memorials in the Memory Hill Cemetery.
Daniel Williams Historical Society was first formed under the direction of Attorney Eddie Keeton. Several years later another good samaritan came to our rescue, one of Wardie's and my students, Attorney Joseph C. Benton, 201 Walton Avenue, Lexington, KY 40502. As a result the Memory Hill Foundation came into existence. Now Memory Hill Foundation is under the direction of ten directors with Joseph C. Benton as general counsel. The board of directors meet at least once a year and more than that if necessary. We meet at least twice a year.


Eight log cabins were brought to Memory Hill from four counties: Morgan, Wolfe, Breathitt, and Magoffin. They were torn down, the logs were numbered and re-erected on the present Daniel Williams Park. Six cabins were furnished as a church, a school, a home, two museums, and a blacksmith shop. Two remain to be finished.
(Photo courtesy of Hazel Craft.)


Memory Hill Foundation is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the collection, preservation, and exhibition of the historical, educational, and genealogical heritage of Morgan County. We also have 13 honorary trustees. I was given the title of president of Memory Hill Foundation. Also the board of directors deemed it to the best interest of the foundation that I, Hazel B. Craft, be the person to reside on and care for the property and to represent the foundation. "Resolved that the foundation hereby grants to Hazel B. Craft the non-exclusive right to reside on the property for so long as she desires to reside there and so long as she agrees to care for the property and its contents and be reasonably available for visits and tours by individuals and groups."
For five years I have lived up to the above agreement. I promised Wardie before his death that I would spend my remaining days working toward our dream, and as long as there is breath in my body I plan to do just that. In fact, that is what has kept me going since his death five years ago.
Many are under the impression that Memory Hill Foundation is run by the state. No, no, no! We get no financial aid from the state. We wish we did! Representatives from the State Tourism Department did pay Memory Hill several visits in Wardie's lifetime. They offered to take over Memory Hill with the option of moving any of the big antique collection to other museums. Wardie and I both did not agree to that. We told them that we wanted what we and others had labored so many years to collect to remain in Eastern Kentucky for our mountain people, especially our children.
Memory Hill is open to the public at no charge, but we do accept donations. In fact, the only income we have are membership fees and donations. We did publish the book The Life and Times of Wardie and Hazel Back Craft - Memory Hill, A Dream Come True. We got enough from the sale of the book to install a security system. Within the past year a new metal roof was installed on the big house and all the woodwork was covered with vinyl. We owe some on this project. We have the promise of money to take care of this indebtedness. We sure hope it materializes. We are now working on the basement apartment preparing for a caretaker. I am 86 years old. I realize more and more that I need to train someone to give tours. Wouldn't it be great to have a couple, the woman to give the tours and care for the house and the man to take care of the grounds? This would be another miracle.
Several articles have appeared in several statewide media including the Courier-Journal, Lexington Herald-Leader, Kentucky Explorer, Licking Valley Courier, and the Salyersville Independent, regarding Memory Hill.
Tourism is on the rise in Eastern Kentucky. The board of directors, Memory Hill members, and many friends want to do their part to put Memory Hill and Eastern Kentucky on the map. So long Eastern Kentucky has been neglected and misrepresented. So many untruths have been circulated about our beautiful section. I taught 13 years in the state of Indiana. When derogatory remarks were made about how backward our section was I would put in my two-cents worth. "I love every little pebble and every little twig in my beloved Eastern Kentucky." I still feel that way. Oh, how thankful I am for Wardie sowing the seed for our friends everywhere who have made this endeavor possible. Above all thanks to God Almighty, who gave us the strength and knowledge to do what has been done. As I bring this article to a close, I bow my head in humble adoration to God Almighty who is the giver of all perfect gifts. Without his guiding power and direction Memory Hill would not exist.


May God bless each and everyone who in any way contributes to this miracle on Caney Creek in Morgan County. Following are several ways you may make a contribution: Annual membership: $10; lifetime membership: $100; name on memorial: $100 per line with $50 going toward the inscription, and $50 going toward the upkeep of Memory Hill; the book Life and Times of Wardie and Hazel Bach Craft is available for $20 plus $3 postage.

To make a contribution to the Memory Hill Foundation, please contact: Hazel Bach Craft, 89 Memory Hill Lane, West Liberty, KY 41472; 606/743-4482, who shares this article with our readers.


 

Wardie Craft collected $16,000 for the beautiful Daniel Williams Memorial located at Memory Hill in Morgan County. This was made possible by having hundreds of names inscribed for $100 per line. There is still space available for a few more names. (Photo courtesy of Hazel Craft)

 

Only $2.50 per issue!
Purchase your copy today at your favorite newsstand, grocer, or book store. Subscribe Online and save 70-cents per issue (excluding postage).
This Entire Site Is Under Copyright Protection - © 2002

Links | Old Samples | New Samples| Visit Message Board | Subscribe | E-Mail Us