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:
Thanks to the staff of The Kentucky Explorer for a most interesting and informational magazine. I am again asking for help, for I am working on my Jones and Newton roots.

Loucrettia Isabelle Newton, daughter of William Newton, Sr., married Washington F. Jones about 1880. The Jones and Newton families were from North Carolina. The Polleys were from Virginia. All three of these families came into Kentucky ca. 1860, just prior to the Civil War and settled in what is now called the Burnt Mill section of the counties of Webster and Hopkins in Kentucky.

William Newton, Sr., gave ground for the Regular Baptist Church, now called Primitive or Hardshell Baptist. Washington F. Jones gave ground for the graveyard or tiny cemetery.

The first battle of the Civil War fought in Western Kentucky, according to sources, was around that church. After the war, because of the low ground (flooding of Deer Creek), the church was moved to a settlement further into Webster County that became known as Targa. I am not sure if Targa was the name before the 1860s.

I have a fairly clear picture of the Jones and Polley families, but I have very little on my Newton roots. I have an interesting 8×10 photo, given to me years ago, of the last Sunday meeting held in the old church before it was moved. Together, a cousin, who I have not seen since, and I identified about three or four of our kin.

The old cemetery has been found and recorded. The modern highways have changed the locations of the three small farms that at one time joined lines.

I have lots of information to share on the Polley and Jones families. I need readers’ help in finding any of William Newton, Sr.’s, children and grandchildren from 1860 to 2016.

Dorothy Shoulders 690 Greenwood Road Nebo, KY 42441 270/584-2138 

Dear Editor:
At the time of the Martin B-26

Marauder plane crash in Leslie County, in 1943, I was about 11 years old. I was raised around Hyden, Kentucky. In 1943 my family lived on Owl’s Nest Creek. It runs into the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River, about a mile below Hyden.

My friend, Edd Young, and I were walking about in the yard when we heard the loud sound of an engine being forced to….

Joe J. Feltner 1118 Bales Mill Road Greensburg, KY 42743

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.

When my father came to Clay County there was plenty of buffalo, elk, and deer. He went to Richmond to get his license to marry. His wife was Mary Bolling. She had brothers, Eli, John, William and Levi; and a sister, Nancy (John Sizemore, and her son, William Sizemore), and they all lived with my father. He gave him a farm on Middle Fork on Rockhouse Creek. His brother, John Sizemore, assessed Clay County many times.

My father has 11 children, only five reached maturity. My older sister married Andrew McRoberts, a farm in Knox County, Kentucky, but was born in Lincoln County. They had one child, a daughter, who married Silas Woodson. She was his first wife. She had a child, a son, who died when a young man.

I was elected to the Senate in 1860 to fill the unexpired term of ________. I was voted against Kentucky seceding, and for this my house was burned during the war. I removed then to Clay’s Ferry in Fayette County. I rented the ferry. The Rebels burnt my boat, and it cost me $300 to build a new one. I tried to get Congress to pay me for my boat but could not. A Union officer, stationed at Richmond, ordered me to build a new boat, and he pressed one above me at Combs Ferry until I got one built. The Union authorities refused to pay regular rates for ferriage which reduced my bill $4,800. I ferried all night once, putting a regiment of Union soldiers over. I could carry 25 men and horses at once. The river was out of the banks, drift running. I paid $1,205 a year for the ferry part of the time and $1,600 part of the time. The Union soldiers killed a desperate Negro on the ferry boat. He had robbed, stolen, and searched women. A man called from the Madison side one day, it was raining. I told the ferrymen to wait till the shower was over. The man swam the river though it was very high. He said the Rebels were coming, that he had dispatches, that six men had drowned, and he would report me for refusing to carry him over. I was alarmed. Dough White of Clay County came over the next day. He said no Rebels were coming, that doubtless the fellow had stolen something and was es-caping justice, and the story of drowned men was a fabrication. I have never heard of him anymore.

I served two terms as doorkeeper of the Senate; one term while I lived in Fayette County. I afterwards served a term in the Lower House from Clay, Owsley, and Estill counties. Brashears of Perry County opposed me in my race for the Senate. My cousin, Asa Gilbert, Democrat, opposed me in the last race.

My brother, Felix, was a surveyor of…..


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I was born in Clay County, Kentucky, on September 18, 1841. I am a son of Abijah and Martha Gilbert. I knew my grandfather, John Gilbert, well. I used to be with him a great deal. When I was 14 years old, he and I were passing the mouth of Hector’s Creek. He said, “Here in this bottom, just above the mouth of this creek, is where Red Bird was killed.” Red Bird and his companion, Jack, were asleep. A party of white men came along. A young man in the party had lost his father by the Indians, and he had taken a vow that he would kill the first Indian he should meet. This was the first chance. He took the tomahawk of these sleeping Indians, and with it killed them and then threw them in the river. He said he came along a short time after the murders were committed and saw their bodies. I think he helped to bury them, though I do not remember. He told me the name of the young man who killed them. It was an odd name, but I do not remember it. He said Red Bird was a peaceable Indian and should not have been killed.


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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 info. on my grandfather, possibly Everett or Albert Ledford, m. Eva Frazier Ledford, possibly Slade, Powell Co., Ky., area. Eva listed on 1910 Clairborne Co., Tenn., census as a widow with three children in the home of her stepfather and mother,Emil Gratz and Rachel Frazier Gratz. Any info. appreciated.
Floyd Ledford
112 Terry L. Partin Jr. Road Pineville, KY 40977
Seek info. on family of Armstrong Worthington, m. Sarah Willison, had Mary, d. 1921, m. Henry W. Mains; and others. My grandmother, Edith Alexander Veitch Dudley Sengenberger, was Mary’s niece. Was Angeline “Annie” W. Worthington Mary’s sister? Any info. appreciated.

Edith Veitch Farris
3745 N. Woodhurst Drive Covina, CA 91724
Seek info. on the Layne family, Trapp, Clark Co., Ky. Their mother, Margaret Burkhart, was my step-grandmother, buried at Frenchburg, Ky.Any info. appreciated.Will share info.
Burlene Horner
2767 Ridge Drive Nunnelly, TN 371378

Seek info. on the families of Randolph, Sebert, Jessie, and Samuel Pearman; and other Pearmans, late 1700- mid 1800s, in and ca. Hardin Co., Ky. Any info. appreciated.
Ken Pearman


Hines, Part Two

Orange Charlotte
Squash Pancakes
Amish Apple Dumplings
Chicken Corn Soup
Maple Meringue
Southern Fried Chicken
Apple Delight Salad
Homemade Cough Syrup



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.

Back in the mid 1950s, we lived on a farm behind Cedar Hill Church. It was a little Baptist Church not far from Park City in Barren County.
The farm was located on the Barren/Edmonson County line. Our house was in Edmonson County and the barn was in Barren County, with only about 200 yards between the two buildings.

There was a large cave down in the woods behind the barn named Short Cave, because it was only about a mile deep. On rainy days when it was too wet to work in the fields, we would go and play inside the cave.

There was a gravel road that went back into the cave, and in a car one could drive back into it about three-fourths of a mile.

After I got older and had my own car, I drove back in there several times. When there were several of us, I would get a weird and uneasy feeling while we were in the cave. I wouldn’t go in there alone back in those days, and not even now at my advanced age.

Some people used to say that it was an Indian cave, but others said that it was used for shelter during the Civil War. All I know is that several times a year mysterious things went on at the cave.

We could be sitting on our front porch listening to the whippoorwills calling at dusk, and then it would start. It was so strange to hear, low at first, and then louder and louder. The sound was like a tribe of Indians having a pow-wow dance. We would sit and listen for hours sometimes, even occasionally when we would lie in bed with the windows open, trying to sleep.

One night while it was happening, my brother and I decided to slip down to the cave to see what we could see. Our mother told us that we should be careful.

As soon as we passed the barn, the sound seemed to vanish. We went back home, and Mama asked us if we were scared. We told her the sounds stopped, but she disagreed and told us to listen. The sound was still going on, so we decided to go back again. When we passed the barn once more, the sounds stopped again. The only thing we could think of was that they must have heard us coming.

We lived there for more than four years, and this went on several times each year. The previous owners of the farm had told us that the same thing had happened while they lived there. This didn’t stop us from going and playing in the cave, but it did make sure we never went in at night.

We moved away from the farm in December of 1958, and it was still happening at that time. After I grew up and got married, I brought my wife to the cave, and we drove back in it almost a mile. Someone had extended the gravel road longer than it was before, they were trying to develop it for a tour trip and had opened the back end of the cave to make it like a tunnel. In doing this, however, the cave had caved in at the back…..

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A group of friends and I started riding gaited mules about five years ago. I learned there was a long span of time between what was called “dumb animals” years ago and the trained mules of today. The mules of old did a lot for Kentucky farmers. They worked on less food and water than horses. Moving huge rocks, pulling out stumps and bursting up bushes for new ground was part of their work.

Training and breeding has brought a breakthrough for mules. Thoroughbred mares are often used to birth a gaited mule. Gaited describes the stride they walk with. The gaited mule, or saddle mule, gets its disposition from the mare. Their flat backs provide an easy ride and make them great rail riding animals.

Trail riding is a soul cleansing experience. Each trail has its own rewards. Most trails awaken all five of our senses. A mixture of decaying wood and wildflowers blooming stirs up our sense of smell. Birds singing or sticks breaking under the mules hooves breaks up the silence. Our eyes take in the most information of the senses. On one ride, someone spotted a green rattlesnake. It was the color of the foliage around it. Its mate was under an old cabin floor. We saw it when we sought shelter from a rainstorm. It was the normal color for a rattlesnake.

One of my favorite finds was….



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100 Photographs Inside!



The Arnett Family at Middle Fork, Magoffin County, Kentucky, ca. 1922. Standing on the porch is Charley Arnett (1878-1933). Standing in front of the porch are (l-r) Frank Arnett, Gustava Arnett, Galen Arnett, Myra Arnett, Shafter Patrick, Maud Gullett, Charley Rice, Beatrice Arnett, Burns Arnett, and Elizabeth Howard Arnett. Seated, l-r: Della Rice; Nevesta Arnett Holbrook (1902-2000), who married Henry Cobb; Lizzie Arnett, who married Henry Cobb; and Dora Arnett, who married Roscoe Hampton. James E. Allen, 447 Kentucky Street, Salyersville, KY 41465, shares these photos with our readers. See related photo on page 4. #kyexplorer #kyhistory #kyphotography #kentucky #kentuckypride #kygenealogy #kentuckylife #kybackroads #kytravel A photo posted by Kentucky Explorer (@kyexplorer) on

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