Each month, The Kentucky Explorer magazine receives literally scores of letters from our faithful readers. Whenever possible, we try to publish as many of them as possible in the 12 pages we have set aside for "Letters to the Editor."
Here are actual letters from November 2010
Famous Tree Destroyed
A fierce windstorm on August 14, 2010, in Monroe County, Kentucky, ended the 126-year life of Gamaliel Cemetery's famous American arbor- vitae tree. This tree was made famous due to its enormous height, and in the 1950s, it was considered to be the largest of the species.
In 1884 Mrs. Robert (Elizabeth Comer) Hibbitt, daughter of Maston Comer, planted a small arborvitae tree by the side of her husband's grave. It is understood that Mrs. Hibbitt purchased the tree for $1.50 in Celina, Tennessee, where she lived immediately following her husband's death. The tree was approximately 18 inches tall at the time it was planted in the cemetery. Elizabeth died on December 13, 1887, and was buried next to her husband, but on the opposite side of the tree.
Lightning is believed to have struck the tree, resulting in the top of the tree having to be removed several years ago. A windstorm broke off the remaining part of the tree, resulting in the removal of the entire tree on August 24th. The tree had stood watch over the Gamaliel Cemetery for 126 years.
When this tree fell, it landed on and broke the oldest headstone in the cemetery, that being the headstone of John D. Welch, who died on August 29, 1844. Welch was the first person buried in the Gamaliel Cemetery.
The words arborvitae are Latin and stand for "tree of life."
P. O. Box 99
Gamaliel, KY 42140
After 60 Years
Thanks to The Kentucky Explorer for putting me in touch with some college classmates I haven't seen or heard from in over 60 years. We all went to Eastern Kentucky University from 1946 to 1949 when it was known as Eastern Kentucky State Teachers College.
I taught agriculture in Lawrence County for almost two years and then left there for Ohio where I worked for North American Aviation for 19 years. From there I went to Marietta, Georgia, to work for Lockheed Aircraft Corporation on the C5A program.
I last had contact with my college classmates in 1954 when I visited two of them in their home in Richmond, Kentucky. Over the years I lost contact because of several reasons; then about two years ago, I submitted a letter to The Kentucky Explorer. Nancy Hudnall Thornberry, one of my old classmates, who lives in Florida, was visiting a neighbor who subscribes to the magazine and read my letter. Nancy wrote me and gave me her phone number. I called her and we had a long conversation and reminisced about college friends and of some who have passed on. I invited her to stop by my home, whenever she was up this way. She did in 2009, and we had a good time, and I learned more about our old classmates.
In August 2010, Nancy's family had a reunion in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. My wife and I went to visit with them and got to see Nancy's brother, Virgil, who also went to EKSTC, and his wife, Myrtle. Virgil was one with whom I had lost contact. It turned out that Virgil went back into the Army after college and retired as a colonel.
Thanks to The Explorer for getting us back together. It has been a joy to see and hear about several more of my old classmates. Keep up the good work.
120 Beechwood Drive
Sweetwater, TN 37874
Carter Family Reunion Held
These are just samples of the many letters in each issue of The Explorer.