Whitesburg KY

Mother, son visit on four-wheel Mule

Hoping to find that all my readers and friends are doing well by this time. I’ve heard that a lot of people are sick with flu. I hope it goes away, and stays away.

The weather has been pretty pleasant here for a few days. It won’t be long until gardening will begin, pea planting and making onion beds and soon cabbage and other root crops. I wish I could be able to get out and do those things, but my back hurts so bad I can’t. I’ve always loved to make gardens. It was a bad year last year.

My son Randy has been down with a back problem but was feeling better yesterday. He came in the house and asked me if I’d like to go for a ride in the four-wheel Mule. I said yes, just let me get some warm clothes on. So I got ready and we rode around to Ingrams Creek to my nephew’s place and stopped and talked awhile with him. Then we went on up the road by my grandparents’ old homeplace, Dock and Rachel Cornett.

Rick Jones bought the place on the courthouse steps last summer. There were 144 acres of it all, and it joined his property at Hampton Hollow.

He has been working on the place lately. They took down the old barn and back shed and another building, and it is looking good. He and his wife are working to get it looking normal. The old home is still standing but will need a lot of repairs on it if he decides to keep it there.

That is the place they came and made part of the movie “Fire Down Below” with Stephen Seagel in the late ‘90s. It was a great day for all of Grandpa D.D. Cornett’s grandchildren and their families to go see them working. One of my uncles was still living there. He was excited about all the stars being there.

They were so inquisitive of how he lived like he did. One of the women asked me, “How does he take a bath and go to the bath- room?” I told her, “He goes to the creek and bathes in the summer and in winter he has a big washtub he gets in in front of the fireplace or cook stove.” She was so curious about that. She was from New York.


We got to see Steven and some of the other stars and they were all in awe of the way he lived. He raised his garden and canned the vegetables and kept his potatoes in a big hole in the ground with hay over them and covered it with lumber and dirt to keep them safe from freezing in cold winters.

He couldn’t read or write, but he made a life for himself and his mother and dad until his mother died at 68 and his dad had to go stay with his youngest daughter and her son Delbert. He went blind and Delbert helped with him. He was a very good patient and lived to be 96 years old. He had been a good person and so many people knew and loved him.

My dad Victor Cornett was his eldest child. He helped them when he got old enough to go work in Cumberland. He was a worker in a shoe shop, repairing shoes. He would take wagonloads of supplies and foodstuff real often across Pine Mountain and down Linefork Creek to Ingrams Creek.

Grandpa was born in 1869. There were only wagon or sled or horse and mule roads back then. So it was very hard to get supplies in those days.

Cecil never went to school and just learned what he could from the other family members — farming, making sleds and plows and making wood shingles to roof houses and barns and cribs and other buildings, split rails for fencing the fields. Grandpa taught him all those skills. He could make turning plows and make the metal parts in the shop.

He could cook and take care of the home pretty good and make rock walls out of the rocks he split. He could split railings for the yard to be fenced with. The fencing of the fields and yards was to keep cattle and horses and hogs out. They also made draw bridges across the creek to keep the cattle from the fields and it went across the creeks and if it came a flood the bottom of the draw bridge would raise up and as the water got up and brush and logs would go on under the bridge and on down the creek. I remember that so well. It was something those old timers had learned by themselves.

They were very intelligent in a lot of skills at that time in life. They had to make decisions then that we don’t dare to try, but they knew they had to try things they thought would work.

After we got to the old homeplace and just looked, we went on up to check on Larry Jones, who has been going for cancer treatments for almost three months at Pikeville Cancer Center. They have done a good job so far. It is in remission, but he has to go March 7 to have the place removed by surgery. It has hurt us all.

He had been over our Kingdom Come Community Center, but the county closed it down. It was another setback for us. We loved to go and have a night of music and visiting our friends and neighbors.

First they tore down the most beautiful landmark in Letcher County, the Kingdom Come High School, which broke my heart. It was made in the 1930s by Archer and Archer from hand hewn rocks by several men including my husband, dad and two uncles, Charlie and Hiram Ingram, and Woodrow Cornett, who was Claude’s uncle on his mother’s side of the family. There were others helping also, Clarence Huff and his dad John D. Huff, who had donated the property for the school and the cabin up on the hill where some of the teachers lived while teaching.

The first ones were Mr. and Mrs. Kingdon. He was a master at woodwork for the young men that enjoyed that class. His wife was a registered nurse. She was a great help to Linefork women who needed her to help deliver their babies, also for other sicknesses. She helped to deliver my husband in 1928. She came back from Florida to our first school reunion in 1974.

One of Mr. Kingdon’s pupils was Clarence Halcomb. He whittled a 92- or 93-link chain. It was amazing to see that. He never did mess it up. It was a link for each birthday Clarence had before he passed away. He made me a wooden knife, a pocketknife that opens and closes like all pocketknives. I love it. He was blind the last few years of life and had to quit whittling.

He came to the last reunion in 2011. It was such a great evening at our center. We had over a hundred people. They came from Washington State, Idaho, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, Illinois and other states and from Kentucky. We cooked a big supper for everyone.

And now we don’t have a place to have anymore. At the first reunion there were five of the first graduating class there and several teachers and “Lee Boy” Sexton and his group played music.

Then they took our Linefork Post Office away also. I think sometimes they would like for all the folks on Linefork to leave Kentucky or go to Harlan County. I don’t know why they have always treated us different. But when election time comes, they are all over us to get out and vote. Then they moved the voting place to the Gordon Fire Department and it had been Sugar Grove at the school ever since I could remember.

My dad, my grandparents and I all worked in the election. I was the clerk. We had good times and fun at election days. The moonshiners were always out to get votes from the ones who drank and there were plenty of them in the early 1950s. Some of the voters would stay all day until they got paid to vote. It was bad for that, but funny in a way.

Well after all that good news, I’ll get back to the visiting that evening. We went on up Ingrams Creek and stopped in to see Larry Jones. He is doing good. It was good to see him. Then we went by and visited with Larry’s dad Bruce Jones, my first cousin. He was pleased for us to stop with him awhile. We have so many memories to talk about. His sweet wife died several years ago and it really hurt him to lose her. I know how that feels.

He was telling us about his cousin Lavene Jones, who lives in Ohio. He and Bruce were born on the same day in April of 1930. I was six months old when they were born. Lavene is planning on coming to Bruce’s for their birthday and they want me to come and be with them. We will all be 87 for awhile if we make it till then. Lavene gets The Eagle paper and loves to read my column.

All of the family usually comes and they cook a big dinner. It is good to be with them all. Time has crept up on us, but we still love to get together. I love all my cousins and friends so deeply.

I’ll stop from now and write again soon. With all my love.

Oh! I was forgetting to tell about my minister, Mary Bennett. She called and wanted Randy to come up and she wanted to send me some stuff she had for me. He went, and when he came back he had a beautiful throw, handmade, to put over me while sitting around. It is so warm and so pretty and I truly appreciate the gift. It was made with love and that is so special.

She also sent some frozen food she had. I’ll always remember her for her good deeds and being my dear friend.

We used to meet and have Bible study. There were several ladies who got together. It was a precious time in my life. She has been a blessing to all of us and to so many children she adopted. At one time she had 15 to take care of and cook for. Her home is a great blessing to so many and the church is so pretty and has beautiful paintings that a friend came and painted on the walls of her home and the church.

God has blessed her and brought her through bad health problems. She is doing good right now. You can feel the love of our heavenly Father when you go there. Everyone is welcome to come every Sunday morning. You will love it.

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