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 father, Dr. Willis McKee, Sr.,
was a WWII veteran with the 101st Airborne Division. He practiced medicine and surgery for many years in Henry and Shelby Counties in Kentucky.

When I was reading the “Noodlin’ in Monroe County” article in the July/August issue of The Kentucky Explorer, I remembered a story Dad told us kids in the mid-1950s.
Instead of noodlin’, which is flipping fish out of the stream by hand, it was called coonin’ in our area. This was obviously named after the way raccoons caught fish. I tried it once
with my cousins and toppled into the creek, so I never tried it again.

One Sunday afternoon when we were all gathered for supper, Dad told us that one day he received a telephone call from Dr. William K. Skaggs in Shepherdsville, Bullitt County, who said he had a young man in respiratory distress. The young man, in his 20s, was coonin’ fish at a local creek. He did not want to get his clothes wet, so he had taken them off. The man reached down in the water, turned his head to the side, and scooped out a fish. Unfortunately, he had his mouth open, and the fish lodged head-first. Its fins opened, and it became wedged in the young man’s throat. He was able to breathe, but barely. Friends with him threw him in a car and went to Dr. Skagg’s house. They did not put the clothes on him. Dr. Skaggs quickly called my father, Dr. Willis McKee, Sr., who agreed to meet them at the Kings Daughters Hospital in Shelbyville, Shelby County. Dr. Skaggs got into the back seat of the car with the patient, and they made the trip to Shelbyville in record time.

At the hospital, the young man was wrapped in a sheet and brought into the emergency room. My father was able to use an instrument called a ring forceps to fold the fins down and extract the fish. The young man’s friends had brought his clothes, so after it was obvious he could breathe normally, he was able to dress and go home.

My father was a wonderful teller of stories, so he spun out the yarn to our amazement, then our laughter. When he had finished, he said, “Kids, that’s part of the romance of medicine.”

Willis P. McKee, Jr., MD 7072 Frankfort Road Versailles, KY 40383 

A few of the great stories inside!

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.

July 12, 1898

I was born February 25, 1815, in Clay County, Kentucky. My father was John Gilbert. He was born in North Carolina. My brother-in-law, Stewart, was in the Revolutionary War. My father had Stewart’s discharge when he died. He brought it with the expectations of getting a pension on it. Some attorney wrote proposing to work it up, and I sent the paper to him but never got it back. My father’s father was in the Revolutionary War. Jarvis Jackson, or some other Jackson from London, came to my father’s and wrote a sketch of his life. I do not know what became of it. I have heard my father often say that he was a youth when the war was on. He claimed to be 111 years old when he died. He was the first settler in Clay County. He came as a trapper, hunting beaver. He caught the beaver at the mouth of Long’s Creek, where there was a dam. His brother, Felix, and William Hudson came to Clay County a little later. He gave them both land. I do not know when he came to Kentucky. My father lived near Cumberland Gap in Tennessee before he came to Kentucky.

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Alexander Outlaw, who made salt on Goose Creek, was from the head of Nolechucky River, Tennessee, called Outlaw’s Bend. In digging salt wells my father said they found a pine log, 25’x30’ below the surface. I think Barton made the first salt on Goose Creek. I have heard Jake Phipps and Joseph Cox, salt makers, talk of it. Cox was full of fun. A proud man came along where he worked at Barton’s saltworks. He wanted to get across the creek. Joe said he would carry him over on his back for that amount. In the middle of the stream, Cox declared they must swim as the water was too deep to ford. He sunk into the water, and this got the proud man thoroughly wet. I don’t know if this was the Cox who was shot at the battle on the North Fork.
When my father came here the people cut down the cane and planted the corn without fencing. They would break off the young cane as it would come. There were plenty of buffalo and elk when my father came here. The bears would eat the corn, so it was with great difficulty they raised corn. Salatiel Martin, called Dad Martin, was the first settler at the mouth of Martin’s Fork. Jesse Pace, who settled…..

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I was born in Lee County, Virginia, in February 1818. My father was Robert Gibson. My mother was a daughter of Gen. James Renfro, who lived and died at Cumberland Ford. He came from Virginia to Kentucky at an early date. He owned a great deal of land. He reared a large family; nine daughters and two sons. One son, James, was killed by a falling limb. The other son, William, lived and died in Missouri. Father Gilbert was the most saintly man I ever knew. God seemed to bless his ministry to the salvation of souls.
Father Gilbert was…

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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 Joseph C. Pruitt, b. ca. 1816, Whitley Co., Ky., d. ca. 1878, pos- sibly in Hardin or McNairy Co., Tenn., son of John Pruitt and Judith DeMoss, m. ca. 1840, Sara Addie Bailey, had Myr- na, Sara, Lidda M., Susan E. (all b. Miss.), John C., Cirena D., James Matthew, and Henry Clay (all b. Tenn.). Any info. appreciated.

Carolyn Kemp 17781 Hunt Road Hillman, MI 49746 chilkoot8981@speednetllc.com

Seek info. on my. g. g. g. g. grandfa- ther, Jesse Adams, b. 1796, son of Spencer Adams, moved, 1803, from N. C. to Floyd Co., Ky. (now Letcher), were farmers and Baptist ministers, m. 6/9/1816, Rhoda Martin. Also, any info. on Adams families. Any help appreciated.

Kim Baldridge Johnson Bella Vista, AR 72715 heavnhlpme@att.net

Seek info. on the burial place of Jesse C. McWhorter and his second wife, Eliza York McWhorter. It is believed that Jesse is buried in Laurel Co., Ky.; and Eliza possibly buried near Liv- ingston, Rockcastle Co., Ky., near her second husband, a Parker. Any help is appreciated.

Margaret McQuarter 1269 Barnesburg Road Somerset, KY 42503 606/274-5103 margaret.mcquarter@yahoo.com

Seek info. on Potter Cemetery for the freed slaves after the Civil War. Al- so, info. on Henry Potter, Albe Potter, Jasper Potter (my grandfather), and Do- ra Hoskins Potter (my grandmother); lived and died in Laurel Co., Ky., but originally from Leslie Co., Ky. Any info. appreciated.

Delbert Potter 129 Wolf Pen Road Annville, KY 40402


Hines, Part One

Oat Muffins
Cheese Balls
Baked Cabbage
Tea Pretzels
Bacon And Potato Soup
Marble Cake
Chestnut Creams
Pineapple Punch
Baked Honey Glazed Ham
Chicken Salad

The Ancestry , Life, And Death Of James W . Mustain

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.

This is a tribute to my father, Lowery Franklin Kincaid, Sr. who was a native of Bagdad, Shelby County, Kentucky.
Back in 2002, I spent a quiet afternoon with Dad. I remember the sunshine coming through the window warming my back, as I sat there. As far back as I could remember, he had always been very quiet. He was gone most of the time, always working.

Down the hall, I could hear people talking, dishes rattling, and nurses walking in and out of the rooms. But all I could think about was the man who laid sleeping just a few feet away from me. I wanted to know more about him, and I knew time was of the essence.

As his eyes opened, he saw me and a sheepish grin spread across his face. I could tell he was pleased I was there. He spoke about his childhood days, something he rarely mentioned. His fondest memories were those of his mother. He said she had named him after two different doctors, Dr. Lowery and Dr. Franklin. She was a graduate of Transylvania College and was a schoolteacher at the Beechwood School, which was located on US 60 West. She had just given him and his other three younger brothers a bath when she suddenly got sick and died. His father died a short time later. Dad was still a child but now his childhood days were over. Leaving school was one of the hardest things he had to give up, but he had to find work. Growing boys had to eat and it was hard for a child to find work. Food was scarce and hunting was his main source of food. He told me he would sit in the woods with a thick limb and wait on squirrels or rabbits to come out. Not only could the family eat them, but he could sell their skins for ten cents each.

It was hard to listen as he talked on.
I knew his childhood was hard but I wasn’t prepared for what he told me next. He said many times, he would dig up “roots” and eat them. The Depression was going on and there wasn’t much to survive on, especially when you didn’t have any parents there to feed you.

Dad loved music. When he was around 12 years old, he found an old guitar someone had thrown away. It only had three strings on it, and he would sit in the dark for hours at a time, teaching himself how to pick it. He grinned, saying he could only imagine what those missing strings would sound like. In later years, he could pick a guitar, mandolin or banjo as good as some of the best. He was smart. That was something I knew early on. He read many books, and could tell you most anything about history. He studied all throughout his life and kept up with the current events. He told me that he had read the Bible four times from the first page to the last page. He studied math and had a keen interest in the medical field as well.

This is just a small portion of what he shared with me that sunny afternoon. I wrote down everything he said, because I knew he wouldn’t be around much longer.
We ended up talking about the presidents of the United States of America, his all time favorite subject. He could recite their speeches, their date of birth, what they would be remembered for, whom they ran against, whom they married; he would go on and on about those presidents.

I was the only one….

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The Zebulon Store, owned and operated by Garland and Zettie Thompson, was located on US 119 at the mouth of Raccoon Creek in Pike County, Kentucky. The Thompsons were the parents of five children: Edith, Agnes, Truman, Don, and Palmer. Edith married Clinton Maynard. Agnes married Ralph Maynard. Truman married Bertha Edmonds. Don married Ernestine. Palmer’s first wife was Lottie and his second wife was Porchia. The Thompsons were blessed with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The Zebulon Store, originally located a short distance up Raccoon Creek, was moved several hundred feet on logs to its final location. When it first opened there was a fenced in lot behind the store where they kept deer, turkey, and sheep. One black sheep was known by the locals for having a mean disposition. Garland also kept bee hives on the hill behind the store.

The store stocked a wide variety of merchandise, such as feed for the farm animals, work clothing, groceries, gas, oil, shoes, bolts of material, and many other household items. The pinto beans, oyster crackers, and other dry items were stored in wooden kegs held together with metal bands. The feed for the farm animals was sold in feed sacks, which the thrifty women learned could be made into clothing. I actually owned a feed sack skirt and have regretted many times over the years for not keeping it.

The neighborhood kids would gather eggs in the morning and take them to the store to barter for the oyster crackers and a slice of bologna. Then having the oyster crackers and bologna in hand, they would pretend to serve hamburgers in their imaginary restaurant by opening the oyster crackers and placing a small piece of bologna inside. I know this for a fact, because I too enjoyed many of those “hamburgers.”

In the center of the store stood a wood-burning stove. It was around that wood-burning stove the men of the community came to…

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100 Photographs Inside!

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.

Classified ads may be placed in The Kentucky Explorer

at Ten Cents Per Word – Minimum $3.00 per issue – Payment Must Accompany
All Advertising Copy. Sorry we cannot accept classified ads over the phone.