The Witching Hour

For these old ghost stories of our area in the early 1900s I once again turn to the memoirs of Kitty Keeton.  With a special thanks to my friend Amber Ball who lives over by #7 Road for taking these creepy photos in our neck of the woods.

Now still about Joda. (Joda Davis)  He believed alot in ghost stories and was always telling about some on Turkey Hill. There was a family that in the late 1800’s a brother was living or boarding at his brother’s house and both were working in the Muren mines — possibly called Carbon or Sophia then. Possibly about that time I was on the farm.

The story was that they left the home one Fall day hunting and the one living came in but the brother didn’t. It then was dark, so the next day they found him in Clay Point — shot. Some felt that on account of the wife, the husband shot his brother. Some of the family lives about 3 blocks from us today so the name isn’t listed. Every Fall, after the affair it was stated that two lights would come out of the house and go north for almost a quarter mile and go up together like they were fighting, then after about 3 or more minutes, one would go out. The other would go back to home.

My belief is that it was night hunting ? of day — so the light story started about that time of year. People from both sides of the hill watched to see if that was true, that the lights showed as people thought. It was true. “I know for sure”.

Arlo Hurt and I got the word around that it was about the time to watch and using our Carbide lights we are positive that the lights were there. Joda and his buddy died not knowing the answer. I now am the only one that really knows.

There was talk of jack o lanterns following people in the low lands, Joda told us that he was told that the heat of your body drew them to you and they would follow you. He said if one starts following me and the heat of body pulls it, it is going at a very fast gait.

It was told that a young neighbor, Putman Richardson’s son, Ira, was riding a horse from Muren to home and when he got to the top of Turkey Hill, a man dressed in white without a head slipped of the bank and said, “Mister, I want a ride”. Richardson put the spurs on the horse running down the steep long hill. One half way down, the same thing happen, then at the bottom of the hill another slid off the bank and said, ‘I want a ride”. It was told that Richardson ran the horse home by Grandmother’s house — farm adjoined on the north.— and fell in the house almost ready for a doctor. He just turned the horse in the lot and left him for his father to unsaddle and put in the barn. as he was unable to.

Happy Halloween!!!!

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Muren Church of God

    The Muren Church of God has always been a part of my childhood.  They celebrated their one hundred year anniversary in 2010. 

Plaque on the new bell tower built in honor of 100 years

    Patoka Grove United Methodist was our church, but most of my family and friends attended Muren Church of God.  My great grandparents, Aaron and Maggie Dixon Bolin were part of the original congregation.  My parents were married there in 1960 and most likely my grandparents were married there.  I did spend many Rally Days there by my cousin’s invitations, along with some random Sundays and holidays.  I attended long enough at one time when we lived in Muren to be a part of the youth group.  I remember those Halloween parties with the cold spaghetti used as brains and the frozen grapes for eyeballs.  Then I had to walk home down Muren Hill in the dark.  It was probably more like run home with every imaginable monster chasing me!  I sent my children to Bible School there and still have a sixteen year old Bible School project magnet on my fridge as a keepsake.    

Building of the church: My great grandparents Maggie Dixon Bolin on far left, Aaron Bolin on right in black hat.

    I am now fifty years old and Jocko McCandless was the minister of Muren Church of God most of those years.  He just passed away this month to join in heaven his wife, Maxine Bolin McCandless who passed in December of 2010.  They were among the nicest people on God’s green earth and will be missed by many.  Jocko was the minister at the church from 1958 to 1991.  Jocko was my Aunt’s (on my Momma’s side) Brother in law and Maxine was my Dad’s Cousin.   Most of us from the Muren area are either blood cousins or married in cousins to each other some where down the line. If your family is from the area you know this and if not you will never figure it out.   

Jocko and Maxine at the Muren Reunion (thanks for photo Judy McCandless Loveless)

    Kitty Keeton (1897- 1982 ) grew up in the Muren, Turkey Hill, Aberdeen and Massey areas..  Again that whole married in thing, my first husband was one of his great nephews, making him my children’s great great uncle.  He made mention of Muren Church of God in his memoirs:

    “Arlo Hurt was another and like brothers we would fight one and another.  If anybody would bother the other, they had both of us to whip.  He really was a trusted buddy.  He married a Russ girl of Muren – Rev. Russ’s daughter.  He was the original Church of God pastor of Muren.  Muren, Winslow, Oakland City still have some of his following as of now.  McCandless, the great grandson is the pastor at Muren.  Jodie Davis, another neighbor daughter, Mrs. Claussen, is now the pastor at Winslow and Jewell Morton and I think some more Mortons are still here attending Oakland City Church of God.  Jodie Davis, his son in law Rev. Claussen, and Mrs. Claussen, Joda’s daughter, also are pastors of Oakland City Church.  All originated by the Russ Family.  Another younger daughter of Joda’s married a young man that is a Church of God minister now.  Charlie Hume’s, the Muren storekeeper, son Richard was a pastor and miner until he died at maybe in his early 40s.  He married a girl named May Whitman.  I worked later with Hume at the Muren Mine.  Also his father in law Whitman.  Then later in the late 1900s, Whitman and I was room buddys at Ingle #7 mine.  The McCandless, Davis, Hume, Whitmans, Thurmans, Bolins, Mortons are intermarried so when talking to anyone from Pike Co.—all pretty nice people in all branches of the family.” 

Original church bell

   

Sledding with Wesley's kids & grandkids

 

I asked Bill Berlin, what he might remember about the old days of Muren Church of God from his grandparents.  Bill is in his 80s and probably more computer savvy than I am. His family was also a part of the area.  This is part of a story he emailed me:

   “My maternal grandfather, Oliver P.M. Agee, (1861-1947) was a farmer and a preacher.  I don’t know exactly when he began to preach, but it was before 1900.  He and Grandmother Lou Ella (Pancake) Agee became engaged with the Church of God “movement” early in its appearance in southern Indiana and Pike/Gibson/Daviess/Knox counties, in particular.  It was called a “movement” because its grassroots-type of approach to church organization, participation and growth, rather than the more centralized, clergy-dominated, bureaucratic forms of other groups, such as the Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc.   Their major doctrinal difference that set them apart, however, is their belief in a second work of grace for those who became Christian, the sanctification of true believers.

    At some time in the 1880’s, people of the community (including many relatives and their families), built a church house on grandfather’s farm just south of their garden plot.  This location is no more than ¼ mile south on State Road 64 where the Scottsburg road crosses it east of Arthur.  Because of their belief, just cited, it became known as Saint’s Church.  The held outdoor camp meetings in the summer and people came from as far away as Monroe City, Burr Oak, Princeton and Boonville.

   Grandfather traveled to these other communities to preach and to hold “revivals,” as they came to be called later.  I’m sure he preached at Muren several times during his active years.  Even in my time, I remember they were good friends with the Hume family in that community.  And I remember when I was a good sized boy, seeing Dickie Hume and wife at their home.  Of course, Dickie was much younger than Grandpa- more at my mother’s age-so I know that the folks were close to the folks of the Muren congregation.  Incidentally, Dickie went on to become an outstanding minister in the continuing growth of the Church of God.”

Old church in background (thanks for photo Bill Berlin)

  They have a beautiful new church on the highway where Kirby’s Drive Inn used to be.  There is still a feeling of sadness when you drive through Muren and the Church of God is no longer at the top of the hill.

Where Is Big Red now?

Little girls were fascinated with the big coal machines too.  Especially those of us who grew up in coal mine country.   I read the enduring story of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel more than once at the school library and bookmobile.  Random facts on this timeless classic:   it was written in 1939,  has become a board game, a children’s movie and even a computer game. 

This photo was taken sometime around 1942 or 1943.  My friend, Kaye Walker, shared it with me.  It is of her mother, Phyllis Thompson, as a little girl standing in front of the coal shovel bucket.  Phyllis’s father worked at the mines, but we do not know which one this was.  Phyllis’s parents were Orvan and Mary Davis Thompson.  It’s hard not to appreciate this photo with it’s contrast of the dirty coal mine shovel and the sweetly smiling little girl in front of it.

Phyllis Thompson, 1942 or 1943

Phyllis Thompson, 1942 or 1943

My pops worked at Whirlpool until around 1966 when he broke his back at work.  He could no longer get hired at any of the local plants because of his back injury.  He didn’t sue.  He just worked at what he could on his own.  He started tearing down all of the old coal mine tipples around for the scrap metal and equipment he could sell.  He started pulling up railroad rail from the unused tracks that ran from the old mines to sell for scrap.   We grew up playing around the old mines.  We knew how to be careful of the dangers too.  Old shafts and rattlesnakes are just a few that come to mind.   

One of the few remaining old tipples in Coe, Old Ben.

One of the few remaining old tipples in Coe, Old Ben.

My dad always liked to pile us all up in the car and go for a drive.  One of our driving trips would be to the State Forest and then out of the State Forest from the fire tower to Highway 64.  This was all old strip mine.  Along it was an old highwall of sandstone that had numerous names and initials carved into it.   My dad’s older brother, Billy Joe Lynn, was killed in a car accident in 1969 at the age of twenty nine.  Billy Joe had carved his name in the highwall and dad always stopped there to look at it.  If I remember correctly, it was pretty large letters and must have taken quite some time to do.  Right up the road from this highwall, back in the spoil banks sat an old derelict steam shovel.  It had wooden sides and had been replaced years prior with something much more modern and left to rot.  My dad cut it up for scrap around 1970.  We climbed all over that thing.  We searched the spoil banks for fossils.  This photo of an old steam shovel my Pappa Evan’s had is similar to what that shovel looked like.  These photos were probably taken at Ingle #4 or #8.  Pappa worked at both.  The next photo Pappa had is of a more modern shovel from when the Electric Shovel Company took over.

Wooden Steam Shovel at Ingle #4 or #8

Wooden Steam Shovel at Ingle #4 or #8

Electric Shovel Company digger

Electric Shovel Company digger

I was always so thrilled when we were kids and we would drive out on Cato Road to watch Big Red work.  My obsession with Big Red continued for decades.  She was huge!  Her boom length was 200 feet.    She was put to work in 1961-62. 

Big Red Working in the Early 60s

Big Red working in the early 60s

I can remember in high school during the mid 70s when Big Red crossed over Highway 61 in Campbelltown to work on the other side of the highway.  They worked for months building a road for her to walk on.  My friends and I even skipped school that day to watch it.  And we weren’t the only ones!

Big Red in the background at Old Ben:Indiana Historical Society

Big Red in the background at Old Ben: Indiana Historical Society

I remember a few years ago taking the Senior Citizens out to watch the dragline go back across Highway 61 on the Petersburg side of the beltline.  I don’t think they shared my enthusiasm but they were always up for an outing.

What ever happened to Big Red?  Is she still at work out there in the middle of no where?  Did she get sold?  Did she finally use up her usefulness and is now recycled steel some where?  Where is Big Red now?