Winslow CCC Camp 541 – Part 2

The Keeton family has been so generous with their sharing for my blog stories. Their ancestors lived and worked in the area with mine. My Mammaw always talked about the crush she had on Ed Keeton. Pappaw John and Kitty told stories on each other until they were both gone.  I sure miss their generation and wish I had listened more.

Perry Keeton shared these photos of his father, Lawrence Keeton from the CCC camp in Winslow.









Kitty Keeton: “musings and incidents that are only part of the things I could tell”

Things have been fairly unpredictable in my family the past year.  Dad has not been in the best of health.  So I am going to fall back on a Kitty Keeton story for the blog.  This is the first 3 pages or so of his memoir.  With a few random pictures I have around.

The Old Muren School Pump

This picture is of the old pump from the Muren School that stood in the field on the corner for years before someone tore it out.

For those who knew Orval Keeton, you know that he was never short of stories that he was delighted to tell. Over a period of several months in 1980, while he was 82 years old, he wrote of many of his memories and life experiences. He referred to this compilation of stories as ‘musings and incidents that are only part of the things I could tell”. In the following pages he writes of a large variety of subjects: school pranks, farming, snakes, hunting, coal mining, fishing, skunks, Barber Shop conversations, ghost stories, the KKK, old age, his self—taught detective and lawyer ability, and his Black Lung case … to name a few. All of these incidents paint a picture of what life was like in the early 1900’s and also demonstrate his enthusiasm for life. It is our hope that “Kitty’s” family and friends will find his writing as interesting and entertaining as we have. Tim and Kristi Keeton 1984
Born: 9/3/1897 Pike County, Indiana. Grandmother’s Home. Located near (Massey, so called)but officially Patoka Grove Church, ME. Built in 1843. My first remembrance was at Bill Dorsey’s place, on the Winslow and Cato road. I can remember that Bill Dorsey brought a fish to our home located on his land, and mother cooked the fish and he ate with us. I also remember Mother threw out the meal she put on to fry, through the north window for the birds to eat. I also remember that Uncle Bill had a mine on his farm and was told that Father hauled coal for Dorsey with a team of horses and wagon even to Otwell, North East, or anyplace Dorsey had a sale.

Bess Dorsey, a cousin of mine, and Bill and Nana Keeton Dorsey possibly was a baby tender for me, because I can remember she took me to a shade tree near the mine, between our little home and the mine, and used corn husks and sourdock burrs to make baskets.

I can’t recall the school house name that was about one block distance from our house. But I can remember that there was a slat gate at the south end of the school ground to Uncle’s farm. I was caught trying to go between the slats of the gate by my mother . I cried and told Mother that I was going to school to see Bess. Mother threatened to spank me for running off, but I remember she had to laugh when I told her the reason I was there so I didn’t get spanked.

I can’t remember my Father in the wagon, hauling coal as I was told that sometimes he left before daybreak, and got back sometimes after dark. Funny, but I can’t remember Aunt Nana at that time. But in the years to follow, she was a real fine Aunt to me, always giving me something gloves, hats. Dorseys had two sons, Virgil and Fred. So Aunt Nan so we called her knew what boys needed. This is all I can remember of the Dorsey home.

Snakey Point Lily

The water lilys are blooming at Snakey Point right now. Pretty site if you get the chance to go out there.

I remember we lived in a small home at Aberdeen, just about a half mile from the Carbon Mine, then later Sophia, and last name even now known as Muren. Aberdeen was north of Carbon. I was really young when we moved there. Father was then working at Ingle Coal Mine Number 5 as a flat trimmer. His job was to use a pinch bar under the wheels of the flat cars that the coal was loaded in, to ship out on Southern Railway. And after getting the cars rolling get on top and turn the large wheel for brakes to put cars under the chutes or under tipple to fill with coal. There were other helpers to help. The mine was about a mile and quarter from our home. That was on possibly a couple of acres at South East corner of I think a 40 acre tract of land that belonged to my Grandfather John Thomas Keeton.

Uncle George Keeton (George Keeton was the brother of Grandpa John Thomas. The only time I saw him he brought me a boiled turkey egg that day) helped cut wood from a fallen tree by that home. There was a spring about half way to the road. Since our home was on the SE Corner, the road was a quarter mile from our home. Grandpa Keeton farmed the rest of the farm and Uncle Ed Keeton was home then and helped farm our home that was owned by Father. There was a house and a real nice little barn.

I can remember Dad having a pet crow that stayed in the hay loft. I tried to climb up to see the crow and I remember the ladder on the outside of the barn was straight up and fastened as a permanent ladder. I fell off about 3 or 4 feet on my sitter and I can remember I didn’t try to go up for awhile. We also had a pet Shoat, and he took the back of my britches off when I got in his pen. Dad happened to be home at that time and saved me. Pet pigs get to think they own the place and are really dangerous.

Since I was born on September 3, 1897, I can remember a pine box leaning up on our north yard fence. I asked Uncle Elisha Thurman, Grandmother Keeton’s brother, what it was and he said, “For little boys to ask questions”. It was a burial box for my little Sister Estelle. The little casket was inside waiting for the time of burial at Williams Cemetery. Uncle Elisha Thurman was there to haul the body with the casket in the box to burial. There were dirt roads then. Estelle was born on October 15, 1901. There was no death date so I presume she died at birth. Same way, I can’t remember seeing her in the casket.

All miners working at the Ingle Mine could have $1.00, believe it or not, One Dollar per Month, taken from their pay envelope and given to any Doctor in Winslow. They were to ride their horse in very bad road times or in better road times a buggy, and make home calls for anyone of the family paying their $1.00. Dr. McGlasson was ours, and I remember him coming and being a very nice looking man, leave medicine for me and say, “No more meat’. I really wanted bacon, and “No candy at all”. I hated the looks of the Doctor.

The next death was about a quarter of a mile east and a few blocks south toward Carbon. It was a neighbor girl , 13 years old, named Flora Johnson. I remember her as if I had a picture to look at on the East room next to Carbon Road. Head south just inside the bedroom laying on I would say a cooling board not in the casket at this time, and nickels on her eyes to keep her eyelids closed. Her death was January 18, 1900 ,figure how young I was.

Mother’s cousin, Rilla Robling Robinson lived on the farm north of Dad’s and Grandfather’s. We ate there alot and they ate at our home also. They too were farmers. Their children were Grace, who was older than myself, and Gertrude, or Gerty, who was about my age. They were at our home alot and usually their barn right on the north side of the road was our meeting place. Their house was about 300 feet north of the barn.

I remember that the thresher men ate at our house when Grandfather, and I presume Dad, had a part in it. Grandfather left his wagon at a large tree by the spring. I usually was there when the horses had a drink from the spring and ate corn and hay for 1 hour at noon. I would eat things Grandmother Keeton put in for me and have Grandfather or Uncle Ed scratch my back that hour. Another girl visited us, possibly for nights. Her name was Dessie Hume, Charles Hume’s girl, always a merchant, I think she was my age and we really romped. She died at an early age, I don’t know what it was now, maybe when 1 was about 5½ years old.
A woman, a week visitor of many homes–ours, Grandmother Jane Richardson Hurts. She would talk, eat, and rock. She could sure keep rocker do its best. She had visited us a few times before, but the last time there she came she brought me some candy, but I wasn’t talking. When we were eating supper she asked me what was wrong-I very readily told her that I was hearing that the next day she and Father and Mother was going to Grandfather’s home to meet John Grimes, a notary, to made deed and sale of our home to her and she was to pay $700.00 cash for it. The next day arrived-and when she was ready to pay off she turned and took it from her stocking-$700.00 in currency. That was money then.

After that I usually went to Grandmother Janes when she was there-as she was a good story teller. Sometimes, I could hardly go to sleep, as she could give some ghost and some things that would almost make a believer out of you. She finally died in a shack on Division, one block and ½ NW of our home. Probably money buried there now. She cooked on something in back yard when she cooked at home.

Father and Mother and I then moved to a log house. A small one, owned by James Thurman, Dad’s cousin. Possibly a little over a year. There was a spring south of that place about 200 feet away. I remember a little red wagon Dad and Mother got me that Christmas. While there it wasn’t far from Grandpa Keeton’s and I would threaten going to Grandpa’s. Mother said “ok if I wanted to”. I started but after passing spring and at top of hill where I would lose sight of our home I “crawdaded”!

At this time Grandma Jane deeded a 20 acre to Dad and Mother. And Dad cut logs in the woods, had lumber made from them. Had a man by name of Ira Smith of Winslow, a carpenter build him a 3 room home–with planks like Max has. They were rough and once a year white washed with barrel lime, and they really showed white. When I got older that was my job.

When at Aberdeen and until we moved and sometime after, Dad was getting $1.56 per day at mine. So you can see why the Doctor only had to have $1.00 monthly. I think when we made this move I was 7. Possibly I started school first year, at 7. At that time we were having to get our mail at Sophia’s, no rural mail
then. They had to change the name of Carbon since there was another Carbon in Indiana, to Sophia. This story about Sophia is in book “Our People”, I have a copy. Sophia Wiggs, wife of Alex Wiggs, the Company Store Manager. The Post Office was in the store. Therefore, she was the Postmaster, until several years later when Rural Service started.

Pirkle was our first mailman and he didn’t miss regardless of the weather. When the rural mail delivery started the Sophia post office closed, and our mail was delivered from post office at Winslow, Indiana.

To be continued.


Snakey Point. More of the lilys.

Early 1900’s: Gypsies at Ingle #7 Mine

It’s been awhile since I shared a Kitty Keeton story.

Here’s a good one for spring and summer, about a day when the Gypsies came calling in the early 1900’s at the  Ingle #7 Mine.

We call them Traveler’s now rather than Gypsies.  But I do still hear people calling them Gypsies every now and then.  Whatever you call them, they will try to trick you out of some of your hard earned money.

“It was 3 1/2 miles to walk to the mine. Had to be in mine to “face” meaning back to our loading working place inside the mines possibly a mile. At 5  I was eating breakfast and listening for the loud steam whistle. Every mine had a different sound. No. 7 was a loud full sounding — some were more shrill.  If the whistle at 5:15 AM, blew one long whistle, go back to bed — no work at the mine today. But when the second whistle came, we know that another or three whistles meant grab that filled dinner bucket and start coming to work. Rain or shine.

We were supposed to be out of the mine at 3 P.M. A loader sometimes got his cars that was allowed him filled and could get out before 3:00 and go to the wash house, pull off the coal mine clothing, take a shower, and change clothes and vamoose for your home. Men went all directions. We used boots and slicker water repellant coats when it was raining or snowing to make the trip. Also Gum shoes in the mine to make it safer deal about the electric shock.

The above made me think of a deal of Gypsies. Always a conniving, stealing bunch of transients. Even now the same thing happens in the Spring, but now they use cars, vans, trucks — then wagons covered and drawn with horses. The women are the thieves, always taking someones hand saying they will tell your fortune. Possibly another slapping him on the back while maybe a 3rd one was lifting his Billfold.

But that day, I had got turn loaded and out about 2:00, washed and changed clothes & standing in front of the commissary — a store that was there where we ordered powder, bought carbide, gloves, carbide lights, cookies, cigars, tobacco, and this little weiner cans then at 10 cents a can, cigars 2 for 5 cents, called Stogies. I had my rabbit fur hat on and clean clothes smoking my Stogies and about 3 of these gypsy women came to me trying to tell my fortune.  

I told them I was charged to come from my Pay things I bought at the mine store, and I told them that the foreman was in that brick building to the south about 100 feet and they had the money. I let them to the door and opened the first door, the second went in the General Shower wash house for the 200 to 250 that worked there. The second door was there to keep the cold air from coming in from the north side while men were taking a shower. When we entered the first door I pointed to the second door and said, “Go in there. There is where the Boss’s are”.

They were all duck fashion falling over one and another and when they opened the door, some of the men yelled out, “Keep out, this is a man’s wash house”. Some hid behind the locker and others just laughed. The three women almost knocked me down trying to pass me and the language they were yapping I’ll never know. And I presume if I would have known what they were saying I would have wanted to slap them down. They went to their wagons where men were waiting for them and left at once.

One time at Uncle Charlie’s, on the Winslow and Arthur road, Uncle lived in a nice country frame home-had a nice garage-where he worked on his own cars. He knows just the thing to do and they run fine. I was there and he looked out the front of garage and said, “Look, gypsies”. Three women jumped out of a covered wagon and came to the garage saying, “Tell your fortunes, tell your fortune, you are lucky”. Uncle’s hands were greasy and black since he was working on his car, he made a little run for them and he said “I fix cars and usually have to fix a few women every time I get a chance and here is where I am going to fix 3 right now”. It was funny to see them run for their wagons. He was rubbing his greasy hands together when he started after them and it worked.”

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!!!!

The Menomee Murder

From the memoirs of Kitty Keeton.  This happened around 1915 according to him.  He lived on Turkey Hill at this time.

Grandfather died in May of 1915. A few, maybe 10, like he had a party telephone. Everybody was on the line in that part. That slowed down some night visiting, as all the neighbors had phones then. Think it was very cheap.

About that time, they began drilling oil wells all over that part of the county.

Grandmother would give me 50cents a day to help her draw water with the pulley and fill the reservoir in the kitchen cook stove and help her scrub. There was a rough kitchen floor — “oak”. She would cook and spread a big kitchen table with meat, sweet potatoes, Irish beans, jelly, fresh biscuits, coffee, possibly pie or cake, and feed a bunch of oil workers charging 50 cents for dinner. Alot of times when she picked up the plate there was a 1 dollar bill. More than 50 per cent of diner did that. Sure tickled Grandma. They got their money’s worth and knew it.

About then, an old man and 2 sons named Memonee — they looked like Indians or Mexicans — came through right in front of the Keeton home putting up the first so called high line or electric line in Pike Co. or the first around here. The old one was the boss of the crew erecting the line. He offered me a job and I asked if I had to climb poles and hook up the lines, He said, ‘Yes, that would be part of your job”. I believe it would have been about $3.00 a day. I said, “I would like to have the job and money, but I am afraid to climb that high and afraid of the hot line”. And that is the first real job offered and I refused. The three ate dinner there every weekday when in that part of the county.

At a later time when on a passenger train from Winslow to Muren, we had to come through Ayrshire about half way from Muren then and Winslow. I was sitting in the Smoker Car and when the train was stopped at Ayrshire, I saw several fellow from Muren looking out the window. I looked also and saw one of the young Menomee boys standing on the steps of the train and two Winslow Marshalls, Marshall Wilder and Deputy Tisdale, and a Marshall of Muren named Garrison was talking to him.

He said, “I know nothing about it.” About that time, the train started to move and Menomee saw that they were not looking at him, and since the Smoker was next to the engine and the train was starting slowly, he started to run by the engine and cross in front and get away.

I saw Wilder, a nice man and Winslow regular Marshall, start toward him from the side of the platform and yelled “stop”. He fired 3 shots from his side arm gun in the air. He hooked his foot in the guy wire from the telegraph line pole and fell rolling. He wasn’t shooting at Menomee and Garrison didn’t pull his gun. Since I had my head out of the window, I saw Menomee was about to get ready to try to go around engine. Between me and Menomee, Tisdale had his gun shooting and being back and over him, it was like me taking aim on Menomee.

He, Menomee, fell in front of the engine and the engineer, seeing what was happening like I did, stopped and didn’t hit him with the engine. I had a box of shot gun shells — only baggage — and I jumped off the train. When they went to see about Menomee —train men Conductor Engineer Freeman — Menomee said, “Keeton, why did they shoot me”? I think I was the only one there he knew.

I said, “I don’t know”, I helped put him in the baggage car to get him to Oakland City for medical attention, I suppose that Conductor saw what I saw when we loaded him, a spot right on the center of the spine at the shoulder, a big spot of blood about the size of a half dollar, The Conductor wanted me to get in the baggage car with him — but I had my thinking cap on that day!

I said, “I will ride cushions”, But instead, of going to Oakland City like the Conductor asked — a few from Muren did and the others of Muren like I got off.

The two Winslow Marshalls wanted to get on the baggage car and go with them, The Conductor said, “You can not ride this train, you did not have no reason to shoot this man. Therefore, don’t try to board”. They didn’t attempt to get on. He really meant what he said. They told every kind of tale about how it happened. I got off the train and soon was over Turkey Hill, not talking, the others did. Menomee was sent to the hospital at Vincennes for about a week and he died. At that time, the police of city or burg like Winslow, the pay was very low and insurance possibly nill. Don’t know how it happened, but the regular Police Wilder took the blame. Possibly he was the only one with insurance. But I know that he was not the one and Tisdale was.

At that time, no good roads, no bus. Could have rode the Southern to Princeton and the C & E at that time to Vincennes and would have stayed at Vincennes for at least a week for the trial. The ones that told their story had to go and after the trial, Wilder was not sentenced.

Out of the dozen telling it, I told them, “You just got scared and dreamed up alot of this to make it sound good. To me it looks to show that I must have been the only one not scared and could see and know how it happened”. I believe I made believers out of most of them, but anyway, I was the winner. I didn’t ride the baggage car, hit for Turkey Hill, and didn’t have to attend the trial. I almost lost sleep thinking that Menomee, knowing me, would tell his brother and Father and they would get me on trial, but I think he went in a coma soon after his entrance to the hospital.

They kept some Marshalls on at Winslow. A few years later, Guy, then having a Chev. Roadster, and I was in Winslow and Tisdale came up to me and Guy and said, “When you two went through the covered bridge, didn’t you meet two girls walking towards Southern Railway”? We said, “Yes”. Tisdale said, “Alright Kitty and Guy, I deputize both of you to take me to Ayrshire store — Ingle Company store — in your car”. (Guy’s my cousin). I said, “Tisdale, go jump a rope, you are only a Deputy you have no right to order us for that — and I saw you shoot and cause the death of a man — and you might do the same to me. I am not going’. He wilted and said, “OK Guy, you will have to take me”.

They and a Corn — he has folks here at Oakland City now in 1980 and Corn is dead. I don’t remember the girls names — only met them walking when Guy and I was riding in the car. But Tisdale said that Corn and the two girls had pulled a fast deal at a store in Velpen and he wanted to go and get them.

I told Guy to refuse to go, but he was afraid not to I think. Guy told Tisdale he would have to take me to Uncle Charley’s and leave me until he got back and take me home then. When we got to Uncle Charley’s house, I told Guy to stall all he could. He had to hunt for his rubbers for it was a little muddy, then he might need a light, finally found Carbide light, another 10 minutes finding a Carbide flask, then on to Ayrshire.

Corn and the girls had left on the railway or maybe a car with someone about 20 minutes before they got to Ayrshire. The stalling helped Guy.
The next time I saw the County Sherriff, I told him about my refusal of Tisdales orders. Reese Burns, the County Sherriff said, “I don’t blame you at all, but he had authority to order you to help him. But for Guy, the same for him also, but not the right to order Guy or anyone to use their car unless there was a bank robbery, murder, or rape. So you put the bluff on the scrupulous skunk and he was too dumb to know it.’ Said, “He could have had you fined for not going’. Wilder, Tisdale, Guy, Corn, and Reese Burns are all deceased. Also the father of Menomee was an old man then, so I know he is gone.