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.”

Dear Editor:

My grandmother, Sarah Jane Morris, widow of Sheriff Johnny Morris, was named successor and sworn in to the office of Jackson County Sheriff in September 1934 to serve until the election of 1935. After a heated election campaign in 1935, she was elected by the people of Jackson County to serve out her husband’s term. The following article appeared in the September 27, 1934, issue of the Jackson County Sun: Jackson County has suffered one of the most tragic events in its history in the killing of its sheriff, J. C. Morris, at Sand Gap, about 8:00 p.m. Sunday, September 23, 1934.
Mr. Morris and one of his deputies, Major Cruise, attempted to place under arrest three men: Tom Lusford, Ernest Adams, and Ennus Hensley, all coal miners who had recently come to Jackson County. It is said these men had caused a disturbance when they opened fire, with several of the shots hitting Mr. Morris, killing him instantly. The shooting occurred in the bend in the road just beyond the Holiness Church where services were being held.
Bloodhounds from Lexington were called, posses formed, and officials of adjoining counties notified. The man hunt began and was participated in by more than 1,000 people. The trail led along the old State Road, and Hensley and Adams were captured in Laurel County on Monday by ex-Sheriff Joe Pence and Charley Jones, district game warden. The men were trying to get to their homes near East Bernstadt (Laurel County).
They were returned to McKee and placed in jail that afternoon, but officers, fearing that there might be more trouble, slipped them away to the Fayette County Jail for safe keeping that night. Lunsford was rearrested Sunday night and held in jail.
Mr. Morris, who took office January 1, 1934, made an excellent sheriff and was a man liked by all the people of the county which was shown by the intense feeling over his death. His body lay in state at the home of Roy Madden where thousands paid their respects.
Hensley gave the following statement at the jail in Lexington (Fayette County, Kentucky):
“I don’t know what it was all about. Somebody started shooting Sunday night near the Holiness church at Sand Gap.
“I didn’t know they were officers, and I didn’t fire a shot until two or three bullets whizzed by me,” Ennus declared, “then I returned their fire. I didn’t do a thing but shoot in self defense, and I didn’t know it was Sheriff Morris and his deputy, M. G. Cruise, who were shooting at me.”
Hensley denied creating a disturbance at the Sand Gap Church, although witnesses are said to have stated that he caused trouble at the meeting and opened fire on the sheriff when he tried to quiet him. Hensley also said that he was sure two men were shooting at him, although Deputy Sheriff Cruise stated that he did not fire at Hensley for fear of hitting an innocent bystander. Hensley’s story was corroborated by Adams who said he was under arrest for being drunk when the shooting occurred.
Adams said he and Tom Lunsford, who is being held in jail at McKee in connection with the case, had been talking to Hensley when the officers drove up and arrested them. Sheriff Morris called to Hensley, who had walked away a few seconds before, halt and opened fire when Hensley failed to heed the command, Adams said. Hensley said he did not hear the command to stop, that he heard loud voices and then the sounds of gunfire and decided to take his part in the gun battle. Mr. Morris was a member of the Masons and Junior Order which took part in the funeral services. He was also a member of the Oak Grove Baptist Church. His funeral was attended by one of the largest crowds ever gathered for such a service in the county. Rev. Walters of Manchester preached the funeral sermon. B. F. Harrison of Berea was the undertaker. Burial was in the family graveyard at Blackwater near the Fall Rock Schoolhouse. Due to another funeral service being held in McKee at the time all the crowd could not attend, but it is reported that folks along the way fell in until there was an enormous crowd at the cemetery.
Mr. Morris was survived by his widow, Sarah Jane Morris, and five children: Dorthy Baker, Dovie Madden, Dewey, Edward, and Edith Morris; two brothers, Morton and George Morris, both of Lexington, besides a large number of other relatives in this and adjoining states.

Leona M. Bales 1628 Upper Blackwater Road Tyner, KY 40486

Dear Editor:

Lyrics To Song Wanted

I am hoping that a reader will know the words, and music if possible, to a song my husband used to sing during jam sessions with our local (Casey County) musicians. He would sing it sometimes just for me, because I liked it. He never had the words written down and played it from memory.
He passed away recently, and none of his jam session buddies remember him singing the song. In fact, no one I asked had ever heard of the song.
I think the title is “Beulah Land,” but not the song everybody knows. This song has a lively tune.
If someone knows this melody, please send me the words. I’m hoping some of the old-timers around Casey County might remember it.

Kathy S. Stinson 1193 Henson Ridge Road Liberty, KY 42539

Dear Editor:

The Kentucky Explorer is a great magazine. It is a cover-to-cover good read. I received my original subscription as a gift, and I’ll keep on renewing.
My favorite sections are the “Letters” and “I Remember.” Reading some of the stories is sort of like listening to my grandparents talk about life back in the day they went through the Depression and WWII. Grandpa worked in a defense plant, so I heard a lot of “home front” stories about how they had to make do with what they had.
Given the choice, I prefer to shop at mom-and-pop type stores. There are still a few around. I have nothing against big-box stores, but little stores have a personality of sorts that reflect the store’s owner and the needs of the local customers.
Some of my favorite mom-and-pop stores are Chevy Chase Hardware, which is Lexington’s (Fayette County) one-and-only small hardware store; Poor Richard’s Books in Frankfort in Franklin County, which is a true book store (new and used) in a 125-year-old building; and Bruce’s Grocery and Hardware in Mason, Kentucky, which has a little bit of everything and really nice people.

Scott Thomas P. O. Box 4088 Lexington, KY 40544

One of the popular features found in The Kentucky Explorer each month is genealogy, often published in the form of letters, queries, photographs, and stories. Several serial features, such as Kentucky Genealogy Help Line, Genealogy From The Long Ago, Strictly Kentucky Genealogy, and Kentucky Kinfolk are dedicated solely to this purpose and continue from month to month.

May 30, 1898

My maternal grandfather was Joseph Lewis. I have heard him say often that he was born in Ash County, North Carolina, in March 1777, and that he was 19 years old when he left there and came to the Poor Fork of Cumberland and then came to Cutshin. He married Sallie Wooton, daughter of Charles Wooton. He settled where Rubin Maggard now lives and remained there for 51 years. His father was James Lewis. He came to Cutshin a year after my grandfather and located opposite where John C. Lewis lives. My grandfather and grandmother had children as follows: Mathias went to Missouri; Nester
married a Mr. Wilson and lived on Cutshin; Clarissa, my mother, married Eli Vanover; Zera married Chana Bolling; Felis (Felix) married Jane Smith, daughter of old Jack Smith on Poor Fork; Minerva, Jesse Maggard; Serena, James Minyard, son of Israel Minyard.

May 30, 1898

John G. Fee began a school on Pond Creek, Jackson County, near the mouth, ten miles from McKee. He built a church and schoolhouse. An old log house was to be used for dormitory purposes. Robert E. Nicholas owned the land and was Fee’s friend. He donated the land. Pond Creek was a strong Democratic community. A lady taught one term and perhaps a man but I can’t tell certainly. I have heard Nichols tell talk about it, have seen the building. Sentiment was so strong that the enterprise had to be abandoned.

Cassius M. Clay made a speech in Jones Hay’s meadow just below McKee. The Greenes and others interrupted, and Clay drew a horse pistol and bowie knife from his pocket and laid them on the stand and proceeded with his speaking. These things we have received from unquestioned authority.

One of the popular features found in The Kentucky Explorer each month is genealogy, often published in the form of letters, queries, photographs, and stories. Several serial features, such as Kentucky Genealogy Help Line, Genealogy From The Long Ago, Strictly Kentucky Genealogy, and Kentucky Kinfolk are dedicated solely to this purpose and continue from month to month.

Seek photo and info. on Artie Newsom Clark, wife of Theop. C. Clark, b. 3/1/1871, Robinson Creek, Pike Co., Ky., d. 4/1/1900, buried in Rob Newsom Cemetery, the dau. of Andrew Jackson Newsom and Margaret Akers Newsome. Any help appreciated.

Betty Edmonds Meier 3853 S 650 E. Francisco, IN 47649 812/782-3269

Seek info. on Reona Banks, b. 1892, dau. of Esther Watkins and James Banks, sister of David Banks and aunt of Eliza Banks Dickey, possibly m. James Taulbee, Breathitt Co., Ky. Any info. appreciated. Will share info.

Kaye Fletcher 660 Baptist Fork Road Campton, KY 41301

Seek info. on Levi Eldridge, born 1806, Washington Co., Va., settled in Perry Co., Ky. Any info. appreciated. Will share info.
Judy Montgomery 2337 Rapp Montgomery Beaver, OH 45613

Judy Montgomery 2337 Rapp Montgomery Beaver, OH 45613
Seek info. on Zachariah Holt, m. Mary Jane Kirby, Jackson Co., Ky. Also, info. on Hershul Holt, m. Helena Sullivan, Adair Co., Ky. Any info. appreciated.

Sarah Holt P. O. Box 256 Saint Paul, IN 47272



Spiced Tea
Buttermilk Puffs
Vegetable Medley
Fudge Cake
Dried Beef Casserole
Raspberry-Applesauce Salad
Tomato Soup
Scalloped Asparagus
Dream Bars

Moore and Hannah Ransdell

Every reader of The Kentucky Explorer, no doubt, has a special memory. Why not write it down and share it here in this column? Help preserve the story of our vanishing past for today and tomorrow. We need memories and photographs from every part of Kentucky and beyond.

On this magical night I witnessed a beautiful sight as I peered out of my window. I watched the snow began to accumulate and finally to drift into many exotic and strange shapes. The lights from the neighbors’ houses turned my window into a mystical stage.

When the whirl of the wind was mild the flakes would dance in slow motion, but as it increased its volume to an eerie earth shattering crescendo, they danced with such abandon that they finally threw themselves against the pane of glass like pagan dancers. The snow thunder brought all of this to an end and the sacrificed snowflakes covered the window as completely as if someone had just closed a curtain. These were the imaginative thoughts of a lonely little girl who had no one to share her make believe dreams with, and this was her way to finally fall asleep into a fantasy dream world.

When the first light of day appeared, all dreams vanished and cold reality took over in the Ashcraft home in Irvine, Estill County, Kentucky. I got out of bed and put on the warmest clothes that I had. There were chores to be done. As always Remzy had to be milked and then the fire had to be built in the furnace before I began the cold trip to school. There was no such thing as a snow day, so as soon as we finished our breakfast, we all walked to school. Someone had given my mother a pair of snow pants that just fit me, and I was told to put them on. My shoes were beginning to wear out but luckily they fit into a pair of my brother’s outgrown galoshes. When I got to school that morning I was still warm and dry. Today, “Ole Man Winter” had been outsmarted.

In all my life I never heard my father, Ezart Ashcraft, raise his voice to my mother, Cloria Mae. I never heard him say a curse word. I am sure that he must have known them and probably said them, but never at home. We had a peaceful family life. Daddy made all the big decisions and then Mamma did what she wanted to, and Daddy was always agreeable. Mamma never wasted a minute. When she finally sat down in the evening, she had croqueting or hand work close by. She did beautiful embroidery work and made scarves and doilies for all the furniture. She darned all of the socks and put patches on the clothing that could not be repaired any other way. She was always busy, busy, busy. She could not be happy unless she was doing something productive. After much thought Daddy gave her a pet name which surely did fit her. He called her his “Triggerheel.” When he called her that to her face she would get up from whatever she was doing and kiss him and run her fingers through his pretty snow white hair. Daddy was Mother’s first and only love, and the fact that he was 25 years older than her never seemed to make any difference. He was hers, and she was his, and that is just the way it always was. No matter how bad the times got, we all knew that we were part of a loving family, and sooner or later everything would work out.

When spring came, the hobo’s came. They must have marked our house, because almost every day one would come to our door for food. There were times when we barely had enough for ourselves, but Mother would always try to find a piece of cornbread and maybe put some honey on it. It wasn’t fancy, but they always acted like they were glad to get it and never forgot to thank Momma.

Having honey at our house was a new thing. One of Daddy’s clients needed a lawyer, but he had no money, so one day he delivered a hive of honey bees to our house, complete with a smoker, a veiled hat, and gloves for robbing the hive. Mamma was tickled to death with the bees, and she loved the honey, but all I had to do was get within sight of that hive, and they came after me. I excused myself from that little chore and made sure that I was no where to be found when the time came to rob that hive. Much to my disappointment the bees thrived, the hive produced another queen, who swarmed and landed in a tree. Daddy got another hive and coached the bees to go into it, and now there were two hives of bees to make my life a misery, but Momma was overjoyed.

No one ever knew what would turn up at our house next. One day a big farm truck backed up to our front steps and two husky young men unloaded an old upright piano at our house. They even rolled it in and put it in the dining room. For lack of money, another client was paying his bill in kind. Mother’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree, and I feared for the worst. Mother could see me as the next church pianist, but I could see nothing but disappointment and disaster. After a year of agonizing music lessons, with absolutely nothing to show for it, I was finally allowed to slide back into my own little world. Poor Mother had to face the reality that her daughter had absolutely no talent for music. I realized that I had disappointed Mother, but I was as happy as any little girl could possibly be as I ran out of the house and into our front yard. I was free at last from that monstrosity that practically filled up the whole dining room and had made my life miserable for one whole year.

Beverly Ashcraft Thompson 609 Elm Street Ravenna, KY 40472 bev524@windstream.net

Other popular features found in our magazine each month pertain to items that our readers have for sale. These generally appear in our Kentucky Explorer Classified Ads and Kentucky Explorer Book Page, but occasionally are found in Letters To The Editor or other pages, too.

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