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."
actual letters from February 2014
Born At Blue Diamond
I was born at Blue Diamond, First Creek, Perry County, Kentucky.
We lived up Gaspar Hollow behind the old school for a while.
My dad was a coal miner and worked for London Clemons.
I am interested in photos of Blue Diamond from the 1920s-1940s.
I would like for my kids to see where I grew up. I went one year
to M. C. Napier High School and then moved to Indiana.
Kentucky is still my home.
If any reader has any of the photos I am requesting, please contact
Jo Ann Bishop
Osgood, IN 47043
Six Killed In Barthell
Mine Explosion In 1910
It was reported in a newspaper article dated February 1910 that
six men were killed in the Stearns, McCreary County, Kentucky,
coal mine explosion.
Among the casualties were Fred Compton, G. W. King, Albert Thrasher,
Edward Thrasher, Elihu Grundy, Benjamin Grundy, and John Troxell.
Although the article claims that no difficulty was experienced
in recovering the bodies, I have been under the impression that
Albert Thrasher's body was left in the mine. Edward Thrasher's
body (a brother to Albert) was removed. I also have been led
to believe that Albert's body was not the only body left in the
Albert Thrasher's family has been searching for Albert's gravesite
for years. We were told by Mildred Thrasher Hail, who taught
school at the Barthell Mining Camp, that Albert's remains still
lie inside the mine. Mildred is unable to help, as she is ill.
We have been told by the current owners of the property, where
the mine is located, that this is not true.
I have talked with the staff at the Stearns Museum, and there
are no records. I contacted the State of Kentucky for a death
certificate, and there is nothing on file prior to 1911.
I am hoping the descendants of the men who worked in this mine
can provide information.
My family would like to honor Albert Thrasher by visiting his
The family members who were young children at the time of this
incident, who are all now in their 80s, do not recall anyone
speaking of this tragedy.
Any information would be appreciated.
Garry Z. Sears
P. O. Box 43
Oldsmar, FL 34677
Our Days Consisted
Of Hard Work
I want to say "Amen" to the article written by Jonas
Hollon entitled "Thanksgiving Was No Piece Of Pie,"
that appeared in the November 2013 issue of The Kentucky Explorer.
This story is so true. There are not many of us left who lived
as this story describes. Thanksgiving was no holiday for us or
anyone in our neighborhood in the hills and hollows of Lawrence
We did get off from school for Thanksgiving, but our day consisted
of tough work. We gathered corn earlier in November, and on Thanksgiving
hogs were killed for our winter meat. All the close neighbors
came to our house to help butcher the hog. The women were all
in the kitchen cooking for the workhands.
The children, those that were old enough, helped. We had to trim
all the fat from the parts that came out of the hog. Mom rendered
it into lard. If she had known how dangerous the lard was, my
dad would have lived longer, and I would not be crippled, but
that was the way it was then. We kids did the dirty work. Using
a really sharp knife the gut of the hog was split and water was
let run through it to wash out the waste. Mom then put the clean
gut into a big iron kettle covered with water. Then she put in
a can of lye. When the water came to a boil, she dipped a big
feather in it. If everything came off the stem of the feather,
she had enough lye in the water to make soap. She boiled everything
down until everything was dissolved and she stirred the mixture
with a big paddle. She covered the kettle with boards and left
it to sit all night. The next morning she would cut the soap
into big bars, using a corn knife. The bars of soap were placed
on paper in a spare room upstairs. This soap was used for washing
clothes and dishes.
On wash day Mom built a fire under the kettle out in the yard,
which sat next to the hand-dug well. She put all the white clothes
in the kettle along with little pieces of lye soap. She also
washed Dad's oily work clothes in the soap. He worked about 20
years later in his life in the small oil field at Blaine in Lawrence
We made what we wore and grew what we ate. Things were tough.
There was no road where we lived until 1959. I had already moved
away. Things got better for the people in Lawrence County in
the 1950s when electricity and better roads came to the area.
I never got to enjoy this while I lived there, but I am thankful
that Dad got to for a little while.
Today, my old homeplace at Blaine has many of the amenities,
that I have now in Springfield, Ohio.
I am really enjoying The Kentucky Explorer. So many things pop
into my mind that I would like to write about.
A special thanks is extended to those who sent cards for my 92nd
birthday which was December 30, 2013.
543 E. County Line Road
Springfield, OH 45502
just samples of the many letters in each issue of The Explorer.