You enter my mind oh! so many days a week. I think back to the day you came from God as a tiny newborn baby boy to live with your mom and dad.
On August 1, 1899, you were born to D.D. “Dock” Cornett and Rachel Frazier Cornett. They named you Victor Cornett and you were their firstborn. They were very poor, hardworking people and they tried to make a happy little boy out of your life.
Grandpa was a railsplitter and made fences for people who wanted their fields and gardens fenced in against cattle, horses, hogs and other animals. He also was a blacksmith and made farm equipment and horseshoes from people’s horses and mules, and raised corn and hay to feed the animals. Hogs for their meat, cows for their milk and butter, chicks for their eggs and also to eat.
They raised geese for feathers to make beds for sleeping comfortably — and also ducks. They saved the feathers from all these birds for featherbeds and soft pillows to sleep on. Gardens of beans, corn, onions, tomatoes, potatoes — white ones and also sweet potatoes, cabbage, peppers, lettuce, cucumbers, beets, turnips for the greens and turnips to cook and eat.
They raised sugar came to make molasses for sweetening and tapped maple trees in the mountains to make syrup and sugar. They picked blackberries and wild huckleberries and gooseberries to put away to have for food during the winter, and made hominy out of the corn and to grind for meal to make bread. They dried apples and sulferated ones.
When they slaughtered the hogs, they made sausage and rendered the excess fat for lard to cook with, and salted the hams and middlings for sides to preserve it for the winter months. They pickled the feet, and made souse meat to eat, using the head, tongue, ears for eating. They used the rendered fat meat and it made cracklings to make bread, and also to eat. It was good.
As you grew up you learned things to do to help them. They gathered broomsage to make brooms to sweep with and got trees for wood for warmth in the fireplace and cooking with in the coal and wood stove if they had one — or they cooked on the fireplace in cast iron skillets and pots
It was hard work, but it was rewarding.
Grandma made clothing for all the family out of wool she spun from sheep’s wool. They sheared the sheep to get the wool and had a spinning wheel to spin the wool. It made thread to weave and knit and crochet.
You got big enough to help with things you could do. Feeding the animals, carrying in wood and building fires for Grandma. You began to help her in the garden in springtime — and helped Grandpa get the wood in and learned to do things in his little blacksmith shop.
Grandpa got a mail carrying shop from Linefork to Whitesburg every day on horseback. You had to do most of that until Uncle Dennis got old enough to help. Grandpa was a little lazy in ways. I guess you knew that!
Grandma told me about a lot of the things before she died. I loved her very dearly.
I know that your young life must have been very hard, and very lonely.
You had three brothers and two sisters. They helped as they grew up also.
You were born on Cornetts Branch of Linefork, and lived in an old log home.
Grandpa’s father and mother were William Cornett and Sarah Proffitt. They met someplace down the Kentucky River as William was helping with getting logs down the river to lumber- yards. He fell in love with her and brought her back home with him as his wife.
They had nine children — Elijah, Lucy, your dad Dock, Jasper, Bill, Richard, Margaret, Nancy and Samuel.
Lucy married Calvin Foutch. Lige married a girl at Cornettsville. Your dad married Rachel Frazier. Jasper married Atha Ritter Foutch? Richard “Dick” married? Aunt Marg never married. She was beautiful in her picture. Sam married June Halcomb. Bill married ?
Lucy and Calvin lived in the Doubles of big Pine Mountain. They are buried there. I was about five or six years old and, Dad, you took me and Dempsey and our aunt up that mountain to Calvin’s baptism. He was very sick and they carried him to the dammed-up hole of water and had services and then baptized him in white clothes.
That was the first person I ever saw get baptized. It was very beautiful and sentimental to me at that age. I never forgot about that. I had a light green taffeta dress and a little umbrella to match. We pulled our shoes off to walk barefoot so our feet wouldn’t get skilled. Our feet were used to being barefoot.
Now back to your young days at home with your mom and dad.
Grandma told me about all the things you did as a young man.
You had a bad temper, and would get very angry when things didn’t go your way. She told me how you’d take spells cleaning around the house outside. You would get a rake or hoe and get back under the house and rake everything out and curse and rage at ramp about how bad and nasty everything was getting. Chickens and other things, dogs and cats, ducks and geese would get under there to get to do whatever they wanted to do.
Oh! Dad, I know how you must have felt. It was hard to keep clean when there were no lawn mowers to cut grass and weeds. It had to be done with handmade hoes and rakes and knives. And you did most of it.
And — when you started going to school you had to go in your long shirttails. You didn’t have many things to wear. You went barefooted ‘till winter frost started to come. Then you’d get a pair of brogans — half boots — to wear. They had to last all winter because they didn’t have the money to buy much.
You had one schoolteacher who was mean to you and other kids He whipped you with big switches and you would get away and run home. You only went to third grade, but you were very smart for doing things.
Then when you got old enough, your dad got a job to carry the mail from Linefork to Whitesburg. Then he got you to do that. You and your brother, Uncle Dennis, would take turns doing that — through snow, rain or sunshine. You were right there for him. He was pretty lazy, Grandma told me, but it brought in a little payday once a month.