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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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!!!!

A Winslow Auction and A Muren Reunion

This past weekend my mother and I found some pleasant diversions in Winslow, an auction and a reunion.

We spent the morning hours at an estate sale on Porter Street.  One of my Grandma’s former neighbors, Eva McCord, recently passed away.  Her home was on an immense hill next to the grade school.  When we were children and played Red Rover on that slope,  she would come outside and yell at us to get off of her property.  She was quite eccentric and regularly dug through the school’s trash dumpsters.

I, the lover of old paper that I am, found a few things to drag home that I think Miss McCord had drug home from a trash bin somewhere.  In fact, I am sure that the old Bibles I purchased were a dump rescue because Miss McCord had written a note and placed it inside of them, “I found these Bibles at the dump when there was open dump & they are Grandma and Grandpa McCord’s bibles.  Writen by Eva McCord”.  I remember open dump on Cato Road in the 60s.  People placed the good stuff on the edges and others could take it.  I don’t know what I will do with the Bibles, try to return them to some family members, or put them on Ebay to see if I can find the family members.  There was family at the auction, but they obviously didn’t want such a fantastic treasure.  I would give anything to be reunited an old family bible from one of my ancestors,  but that is just me.

There is also an old book, which she had covered the pages of  in scrapbook fashion with clippings and articles all related to Prohibition.  She cared deeply about the Temperance Movement.  There are also little radio talk show books by Sam Morris, “The Voice of Temperance”.  I am especially fond of “The Female Bar Fly”.  The really sad part of that sexist story is that it is a tad bit prophetic.

Me at our house in Muren, the little house in the background is where my parents lived with I was born in 1960.

Me at our house in Muren, the little house in the background is where my parents lived when I was born in 1960.

Later in the afternoon, we attended the Muren reunion held at the Winslow Community Center.  There were a number of Sharps, Barretts, Bolins, McCandless, Youngs, Reeds, Brewsters and other in attendance that grew up in Muren.  My mother had a fine time visiting with everyone, some of whom she hadn’t seen for probably close to 50 years.  There was good food, old pictures and congenial company.

Muren General Store in the early 1900s.  William R. Berlin is man in the middle in white shirt.   Link to jwww.jddedman.com

Muren General Store in the early 1900s. William R. Berlin is man in the middle in white shirt. Link to http://www.jddedman.com

I don’t believe there was an inch of Muren that we did not explore as kids growing up there.   We picked wild asparagus in the spring and cracked black walnuts from Grandma’s trees in the fall.

John and Allie Young of Muren.  Family of and submitted by David Young, Colorado

John and Allie Young of Muren. Family of and submitted by David Young, Colorado

We learned to swim in Muren Pit.   I can still remember the anticipation of driving down that old dirt road with the sandstone highwalls, walking down that narrow washout path, and  my mother warning us not to go out too far because of the drop offs.  My dad would hover at the drop off point so none of us could drown.  For those of you  not growing up swimming in the strip pits, the drop off is where the shovel dug deeper, it gets deep very fast and is nearly bottomless.

Remaining Portland Cement Mine Company house built in early 1900s in Muren.  2007

Remaining Portland Cement Mine Company house built in early 1900s in Muren. 2007

 

J.C. Muren was the man that Muren was named after.  In the late 1800’s Muren was called Carbon,named after the Carbon Coal Mine operating in the area.  In 1890, Carbon had it’s first post office.  Being that there was already a town and post office in Indiana named Carbon, the  village had to choose a new name and became known as Sophia.   Sophia was the wife of Alex Wiggs and the postmistress.  Her husband also ran the company store where the post office was located.  In the early 1900s it became Muren, named after the underground mine operating in the village from 1904 to 1921.  The post office was replaced by a mail carrier early on.  The first mail carrier was George Pirkle.  In the summers he drove a buggy with one horse, but during winter and rainy season he used two horses.  When the roads became impassable, he unhitched the wagon and rode horseback.  By 1900, Muren had many stores, a hotel, a school, a church and a train depot.

My great uncle, Wesley Bolin, Great Grandfather, Aaron Bolin and friend, Tuffy Wade in Muren in the 1920s.

My great uncle, Wesley Bolin, Great Grandfather, Aaron Bolin and friend, Tuffy Wade in Muren in the 1920s.

By 1900, there were 50 or more houses in the town.  Company houses were built from tile and Portland Cement after David Ingle built the large Ingle dairy barn on Ayrshire Road, one of seven on his property.  It was durable and inexpensive.  The row of Company mine houses were on the Muren Road, or Orchard Hill Road as it used to be called.  There is only one left standing in the area, and maybe another one covered in siding.  You rented the houses from the mine owner and shopped at the company store with mine tokens you were paid.

A Portland Cement brochure with the Ingle Barn in Ayrshire on the cover.  Early 1900s.

A Portland Cement brochure with the Ingle Barn in Ayrshire on the cover. Early 1900s.

My great grandparents, Aaron and Maggie Dixon Bolin at a Muren Store

My great grandparents, Aaron and Maggie Dixon Bolin at a Muren Store

Most of our ancestors from the area were coal miners or made a living associated with the mines.  My family, the Dixons and the  Bolins, migrated here from Perry county to work the coal mines.   We still have family in the mines and can point out the remnants of the old mines in the area.   There were several injuries and deaths in the coal mines.   March 25, 1906  Elisha Copeland was killed by falling slate at the Muren Mine.  His wife was pregnant with their 5th child.   March 7, 1915  Alex Wiggs was killed by falling slate.  His wife Sophia, was the one the town had been named after.

 

John Young's Miner License, submitted by David Young, Colorado

John Young’s Miner License, submitted by David Young, Colorado

 

Young Family Gathering at Muren  Submitted by David Young, Colorado

Young Family Gathering at Muren Submitted by David Young, Colorado

My parents, James and Nell Hair Lynn, married at Muren Church of God, February 28, 1960.

My parents, James and Nell Hair Lynn, married at Muren Church of God, February 28, 1960.

Muren Church of God, where my parents were married nearly 50 years ago, has now moved out to Highway 64 where Kirby’s Drive Inn used to be.  Kirby’s Drive Inn was the place to be in the summer during the 60s.  The local boys played music on the bandstand.  We’d have a mug of root beer delivered to our car on a tray that hung on the window.  If we had the money, dad would buy a gallon in a glass jug to take home.

Two passenger trains passed through Muren daily.  The train was also used to ship livestock.   The old depot stood in between the railroad tracks.  There was a church on the corner of the Ayrshire Muren Road that was dilapidated when my dad was a kid.  They used to go in there and play the old piano that had crashed through the rotten floor.    The creosote plant purchased the land and it is now torn down.  The creosote plant owns all of that land now.

 

My great grandparents, Aaron and Maggie Bolin and great great grandparents, John Wesley and Louis McMahon Dixon at the Muren Train Depot in the early 1900s

My great grandparents, Aaron and Maggie Bolin and great great grandparents, John Wesley and Louis McMahon Dixon at their gas station in Kentucky.

Seated:  Unknown, Evelyn Bolin, 2 Simmons girls, Bessie Davis Simmons, Maggie Dixon Bolin, standing:  Joda Simmons, Lorene Bolin, Odyne Simmons Sharp and baby, Charlie.  Early 1900s

Seated: Unknown, Evelyn Bolin, 2 Simmons girls, Bessie Davis Simmons, Maggie Dixon Bolin, standing: Joda Simmons, Lorene Bolin, Odyne Simmons Sharp and baby, Charlie. Early 1900s

Muren holds many memories for me.  I drive through there every now and again.  I will attend the next reunion and hope to see everyone there.