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.

ORVAL “KITTY” KEETON
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
CHILDHOOD
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.
—1—

Snakey Point Lily

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

ABERDEEN HOME, THE SECOND HOME THAT I REMEMBER
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.
—3—
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
—4—
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

Snakey Point. More of the lilys.

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Kinship with the Sharp Family

When you go back a couple of generations our coal mining families from the Muren, Turkey Hill, and Massey area all ended up married into each other.  I can add the Sharp family to my Bolin family tree along with most families from those parts.    Our families have remained friends to this day.

After writing my blogs about My Grandparents Schooling and 1920:  Cold Blooded Murder or Sad Accident?  I started getting emails that Jean Meyer wanted to talk to me about my blogs and the history of the area.  At the time, I did not know who she was.  Her son had commented on the Schooling blog that his mom lived in the house that the was built from the lumber of the old Muren School that my dad helped tear down and haul over to the Arthur shortcut.   He stopped in to talk to me one night about it, telling me that his mom was a Sharp and that the 1920 Murder blog was about her uncle Cecil.  With two blogs tied to the same family, I had to meet her and hear her stories.

Between work and family obligations I found a Monday afternoon to spend with Jean.  At 80 years old,  she is a good storyteller.  If you are interested in the area, you should catch her out and about sometime and listen to her.  She remembers people,  places and things.  So many of that generation are gone and the stories are gone with them.  It was a very pleasant afternoon for me.  One I will repeat often.

Jean showed me her house, the old part that was built with the lumber from the Muren School.  I thought of the photos I had seen of the Muren School and of the stories passed down. That these boards had seen my Grandma as a little girl going to school and my dad as a young boy tearing it down and moving it to this spot.  It was kind of surreal standing in it.

She has this old table in her dining room.  Her grandmother, Issa Sharp bought it in the Ingle Store (formerly Snyders, now the Main Street market).  It was purchased used around 1900.

Purchased used at the Ingle Store in Winslow about 1900.

Purchased used at the Ingle Store in Winslow around 1900.

We talked about the murder.  Her uncle Cecil was the murder victim.  Everyone believed it was murder.  No one believed it was accidental.  It was said Cecil had some money on him that day.  Her grandpa hired a detective to investigate it.  Her family buried Victor Black alongside their son.   She showed me some photos of Cecil and the Black boy is with him in several.  They were good friends.

Jean was born Lois Jean Sharp and married Ab Meyer.  Her folks were Louis Sharp and Ollie Bruce.  Her grandparents were Lance Sharp and Issa Tooley.  Her great grandparents were Tom Sharp and Mary Lamb.  Tom Sharp came to America from Scotland.  He was a coal miner who ended up here in Pike County.

Jean shared a box of old photos with me.  I scanned them and visited with her another afternoon so that we could add descriptions to them.  She wanted me to have the Bolin photos.  She also wants to share them with other family members here on the blog.  I have shared them on this link at the Pike IN Genweb page.

https://inpikeco.wordpress.com/2018/09/20/thomas-sharp-family-shared-by-jean-sharp-meyer/

 

Tom Sharp and family at house on Kitchen Corners.

Tom Sharp and family at house on Kitchen Corners.

1795 Indian Story

Hill at Martin Cemetery

Pioneer History of Indiana by William Monroe Cockrum  1907

Pages 177 through 180 of 638 pages

Data of the recapture of three Kentucky women from the Indians in what is now Pike County, Indiana, was furnished the author in 1855 by William Leathers, son-in-law of John Severns. The story is as follows:

In 1795 John Severns was on White river hunting, when he met two Indian trappers one of whom he had known intimately during his captivity among the Indians. They had been in the employ of the Hudson Bay Company, of Canada, for several years but had come south to do a little trapping on their own account and had a large number of traps with them, mostly for beaver. Severns told them of the many beaver and beaver dams along the Patoka river and its tributaries.*

After talking the matter over the Indians agreed that they would hunt bear for awhile and put in the late fall and winter trapping for beaver, all of which was carried out. From the start the three men bad all they could do to keep their traps set and care for their peltry. The intention of the trappers was to stay a few days in the neighborhood, catch all they could and then go on farther. In this way they thought they could go over the best trapping territory during the winter. The weather had become pretty cool and the trappers had made their camp against a bluff bank of the river where a thick vein of coal was cropping out. They built their fires against the coal and had a good one. This camp as the river runs was from 35 to 40 miles from Mr. Severns’ home. They had been there several days and had become pretty well acquainted with the surrounding country when one morning as they lay in their comfortable quarters a little before day they were startled by the firing of several guns not far away. They would have thought it was Indians shooting at a bear or a gang of wolves prowling around their camp had it not been for the loud hallooing and the screaming of a child or a woman, that continued for some time. The trappers hastily put out the fire and got into a position to defend themselves. In a short time daylight came and Severns and one of the Indians determined to reconnoiter near their camp. On going up the river some distance they heard talking and were satisfied that it was white people. The Indians slipped away and went back to camp while Severns went in the direction of the talking and soon saw several men and women sitting around a fire. One man, who was on the lookout, saw Severns and seeing that he was a white man, called to him and when he got to the party he saw seven of the hardiest type of Kentucky backwoodsmen and three women. One of the men was wounded by a ball through the top of the shoulder. The women’s clothing was badly torn and their feet almost bare. They looked weary and careworn and the stop had been made to make some covering for their feet so they could travel, but they were very short of suitable material. Severns told them that if they would wait until he could go to his camp, less than a mile away, he would provide them with all the material they needed. The proposition was gladly accepted and he soon returned with the saddle of a deer and a dressed buck skin. While he was at camp he advised the Indians to keep close as he did not know much about the people, only that they had recaptured three white women from the Indians and had killed several of the latter and that he might go a little way with them to find out what he could. The moccasins were soon mended and the party started on the long return trip. Severns went with them for a few miles and learned that they lived in central Kentucky and that nearly all of the men of their settlement had gone to a salt spring to make salt. While they were absent six Indians attacked two houses and captured the three women. A boy not far from one of the houses saw the Indians and ran to two men building a cabin and gave the alarm and then all the other families ran to the fort not far away. A runner was sent after the men at the salt spring but it was nearly two days before they could get back and start after the Indians. After that they followed them on the run as they knew the Indians would make haste to get back over the Ohio river. When the Kentuckians had crossed the river they had no trouble in following the trail because most of the way they were on a trace that crossed at the ford where Severns found them. “Last night about eleven o’clock,” one of the men told Severns “our out runner came back to the party just after we had retired for the night and told us that he had seen a little glimmer of fire about a half mile ahead. Two of our men went back with him and in about an hour one of them came back and said they had located the Indians and that they were all asleep except one who was guarding the prisoners and that as well as they could count them as they lay, there were six Indians and the three women, and that their camp was at the foot of a bluff. He left the other two on a hill about a hundred yards from the Indians. There was a small valley between them and they had a clear view of the camp. The rest of us went to the hill and after a whispered council decided to deploy out so as to reach the camp from the south and east sides and as soon as we could get near enough, to charge the Indians and kill them before they could defend themselves. The men who are husbands of two of the women were to look after them. In creeping up we found the little valley covered an inch or two deep with water from a gushing spring near the Indians’ camp which greatly delayed our attack and it was nearly five o’clock when we rushed on them, killing four before they could use their guns. The one left on guard shot one of our men in the shoulder and he and another one got away, the guard with a broken arm.”

After hearing his story, Mr. Severns wished them a safe journey and returned to camp. That afternoon the three trappers went to the battle ground and found four dead Indians which they placed in a large hole made by the uprooting of a tree that had blown down, piling brush, dirt and rocks on them. The Indians were greatly alarmed and Mr. Severns could not induce them to stay longer, so they went down the river to Severns’ home and then took their traps and went north.

The only certain location of this battle ground is the Patoka river and Severns’ home but the distance and outcropping of the coal makes it certain to my mind that it was Massey’s Bridge where the trappers’ camp was and that the Kentuckians crossed at Martin’s Ford about a mile up the river from the bridge and the place where the battle was fought and the women rescued was at Martin Springs. The hill the men laid on when planning to charge on the Indians, was I believe, where the Martin cemetery is now located.

Author’s Note. I have heard hunters say that there was no place in the western country where there had been more beaver than on the Patoka river and that many had been caught as late as 1835. To this day the signs of their industry are to be seen in many places.

Valley at Martin Cemetery

Another view of hill at Martin Cemetery

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.