xt7ngf0msx30 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7ngf0msx30/data/mets.xml Holt, Mathew Joseph, l866- 1920  books b92-222-31182254 English Westerfield-Bonte, : Louisville [Ky.] : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Holt, Mathew Joseph, l866- Nirvana. Holt, Mathew Joseph, l866- Searchlight. Chit-chat  : Nirvana ; The searchlight / Matt J. Holt. text Chit-chat  : Nirvana ; The searchlight / Matt J. Holt. 1920 2002 true xt7ngf0msx30 section xt7ngf0msx30 




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      C H I T - C H A T

        N I R V A N A


          MATT J. HOLT

         WXUTERFrlLD-BONTr CO. Inc.


Copyrighted 1920
By The Author






-.  72


[. "Y" SERVICE  .



   .   .   198
   .   .   225







 This page in the original text is blank.



                   CHAPTER I.

   I thought to write a book entitled: "Yesterday, Today
and Tomorrow."   How much is buried in the wreck-
age of yesterday-how uninteresting today is and how
little is to be done our burden we shift to the strong,
young shoulders of tomorrow; tomorrow of the big heart,
who in kindness hides our sorrows and whispers only of
hope. I ended by writing,-this-which I have called
"Chit-Chat," thus classifying the book, knowing that
such a book if true to name will picture the age and find a
   I have read in the Arabian Book of Knowledge that
"thoughts are Tartars, vagabonds; imprison all thou
canst not slay," and have seen fit to follow this sugges-
tion and the advice given a Turkish author-
   "That none may dub thee tactless dund 'rhead,
       Confine thy pen to light chit-chat,
    And rattle on as might a letter!
      For ninety-nine of every hundred
    Hate learning and what's more than that,
      The hundredth man likes berresh better."
   So I present to you, gentle or gallant reader, as the
case may be, and quite informally, John Cornwall.
   He was born at 702 West Chestnut Street, Louisville,
Kentucky, on the 12th day of May, 1872. His mother
was a widow; and before the days of H. C. L. the two
lived comfortably on her income of 1,800.00 a year.



   His boyhood was as that of other boys of the city; an
era of happiness and happiness has no history. He was
considered a good boy as boys go; and good boys have
few adventures.
   Although John never attended Sunday School except
when his mother made him-as she was a Presbyterian,
he wore the honor pin for an unbroken three-year at-
   School to him was such a delight, that in a spirit of
emulative self-denial, he never started from home, a
block away, until a minute before the tardy bell rang.
He usually made it. If late, lie slipped in, usually walk-
ing backwards, hoping either to escape observation or,
if seen, to be told to retake his seat.
   His vacations were spent on the river where he
learned to handle a canoe and skiff; and before he was
fourteen could swim and dive like a didapper. At that
time his greatest ambition was to run the falls in a canoe;
his next to be a steamboat captain.
   He and two other boys built a camp on Six-Mile Is-
land. There they usually spent the month of August;
during the preceding vacation days working as bank
runners or messenger boys to raise the money to finance
the camping party.
   He was entered in the graded school at seven, in
high school at fifteen, at which time he put on long
trousers and changed from stockings to socks. He in-
sisted on discarding his stockings, as the boys had a way
of lifting the bottoms of trousers to see if the one appear-
ing for his first time in long trousers yet wore his stock-
ings. He graduated from the high school at nineteen;
and after two years at the local law school and in Judge
Marshall's office, was given a position with the Kentucky



Title Company; and for a year had been employed at ab-
stracting in the Jefferson County Clerk's office.
   One day a prosperous-looking stranger asked where
certain records might be found and he graciously showed
their location. The next day the stranger asked several
questions as to local real estate laws, particularly as to
leases, transfers and the rights of married women. He
introduced himself as Mr. Rogers and asked John his
   The following day about noon he came into the clerk's
office and said; "Mr. Cornwall, I wish you would lunch
with me today." Cornwall, after telephoning his mother
that he would not be home, went with him.
   When they were nearly through eating Mr Rogers
   "This morning I was at the office of Judge Barnett.
He is attorney for our company, The Pittsburgh Coal &
Coke Company. I asked him the same questions I did
you and he gave similar answers. I have since made
inquiries and believe our company can use you to look
after its local law business in Bell, Harlan and Leslie
counties. In these three counties we own about fifty
thousand acres of coal lands and mineral leases on ap-
proximately two hundred thousand acres more. In addi-
tion we own several old surveys which I do not include in
this acreage.
   "We will pay you 1,800.0Q a year, equip and furnish
iyou with an office in our new building in Harlan and will
make no objection to you attending to such local business
as may come your way, provided it does not take you
away from Harlan. What we need is a man on the
ground. Think this over and let me know in the morn-
ing. I am at the Galt House, room 247. You had better





call instead of telephoning. I shall be disappointed if you
do not accept my offer."
   "I thank you and I will take it up with mother to-
night, then call at your room at 8:30 in the morning.
Please excuse me now as I am due at the office."
   Mr. Rogers and John Cornwall, several days later,
arrived at Pineville on the early morning train and after
lunch left on horseback, taking the Straight Creek road
to Harlan.
   It was not their intention to ride through that after-
noon, but stop overnight at Simeon Saylor's and the
following morning look over the Helton, Saylor and
Brock coal properties on the south or main fork of the
   The road follows the creek and is canopied by syca-
more, elm and birch trees or grape vines and other creep-
ers. It is screened by thickets of pawpaw, blackberry,
sumac or elderberry bushes which grow thick in the
corners of the abutting worm fences.
   It is not a lonely way. Every three or four hundred
yards you pass a small mountain farmhouse overflowing
with children, calling to mind the home of the old woman
who lives in the shoe. Many squads of geese, following
their corporal, march across the road towards the creek
or back again to the barnyard. The thickets are alive
with red birds and ground robins and an occasional
squirrel, who has come down the mountain for a drink,
rustles the leaves in his flight or at giddy heighth barks
defiance at passing strangers.
   Pine Mountain, without a break or scarce a deep cove,
walls in the narrow valley on the south, while on the
north smaller mountains stand at attention. The stream,



with little chance to wander, bisects the valley in its un-
varying course and perforce pursues its way, true to
   They arrive at the foot of Salt Trace just as the live-
ly tinkling of cowbells, as well as their own appetites,
and the setting sun, suggests supper time; and their
chafed buttocks, more used to a swivel chair than a
saddle, pleaded for the comfort of an altered position.
   Simeon Saylor lives several hundred yards up the
creek from where the Salt Trace Trail, the bridle path
to Harlan, leaves the main road. His house is the usual
stopping place for travelers. He has imposed the labor
of their entertainment upon his women folks, not so
much for profit as to hear the news and chit-chat of the
outside world.
   The house is a structure of three large pens of logs
with a dog trot (hallway) between. Two front the road,
the third forms an ell at the rear and is flanked by a long
porch. The whole is covered by a rough clapboard roof.
Each pen has a sandstone chimney and each room a large,
open fireplace. The ell is used as a kitchen, dining-room
and storehouse combined. On the edge of the porch, al-
most within reach of the well sweep, a bench holds two
tin wash basins; a cake of laundry soap reposes in the
former coffin of a family of sardines and a roller towel,
sterilized and dried by air and sunlight, hangs pendant
from the eaves.
   The travelers as they rode up and stiffly dismounted
noted the many chickens going to roost and the three
cows occuping the road in front of the house. The barn
was rather an imposing structure. These signs assured
eggs, milk and butter for themselves and feed and com-
fortable quarters for their horses.





   After supper they sat out in the moonlight on a
crooked, half uprooted elm overhanging the creek, until
the world grew worshipfully still as it does twenty miles
from a railroad; their quiet, contented thoughts undis-
turbed by the call of the whippoorwills in the near thick-
ets and the hooting of a great owl far down the valley.
  Then they were joined by their host, a tall, rawboned,
sallow, sandy-haired man with a long, thin face on which
grew a straggly beard, which had never known shears or
razor. He had come out to hear more news than he had
been able to learn at supper, where table manners de-
manded that he should eat and get through with it. At
the table the men ate saying little, while the old woman
and her daughters served them, and in silence.
   His youngest boy, Caleb, came with him, an immodest
little fellow; made so by his father, who it seemed spent
most of his time boasting of the boy's accomplishments.
   "Well, rested yet! Thar's a boy what's gwinter
make a lawyer. He's just turned nine and you can't be-
lieve nothin' he says. He can argy any thing out'er his
maw and the gals and the boys nigh bout hayr haint got
no show with him; somehow he gits every thing they gits
hold on. And you oughter see him shoot with a squirrel
gun! Many a time he's knocked the bark out from under
a squirrel and killed him without raising a hayr. Last
Christmas eve I fotched a jug of moonshine from the
Cliff House Still and hid it in the loft. You know that
boy found out whar I hid her and when I went after hit,
hit was nigh gone. He was snoozing away on the hay.
When he come to, his head didn't hurt narry bit. That
once I shore split his pants for him with a hame strop.
H-Je's got to leave my licker alone; that's one thing he
can't put over on his paw,-no not yit. Down the crick at
the mines is a dago, a fur-reen-er and his folks from Bol-




ony. He's got a boy, Luigi Poggi, about fourteen but
not as big as Caleb. That boy spends all his time with
Caleb. He had jest gone home when you rid up. He
talks dago to Caleb and Caleb gives him back jest plain
straight Crick talk. If he's larnin as much United States
as Caleb is dago, he'll make circit rider preacher in a
few years. Caleb talk dago to the men."
   Whereupon the boy stepped directly in front of Mr.
Rogers and said; "Buona sera, Rogers avete tabacco
meliore di questo" (Good evening, Rogers, have you
any tobacco better than this -holding out a plug of
long green.)
   To which Mr. Rogers understanding him, replied:
   "Caro ragazzo, voi mi annoiati oltre mode, buono
notte." (My dear boy, you annoy me considerably, good
   "Ma non debbo ancora." (But I am not going yet.)
   "Well you speak dago too, he's a great boy aint he,
jest like his paw."
   "WIhat mought yer bissiness be, Mr. Rogerst"
   "I am secretary of the Pittsburgh Coal & Coke Com-
pany. "
   " Yaah, that's the new crowd what's come in havr
buying out the old settlers. I hearn you bought that old
Boyd Dickinson survey. Well you didn't git much.
They've been trying for nigh forty year to locate the be-
ginning corner. The first time Cal Hurst and them sur-
veyor men came prowlin' round hayr, we got two on them.
How's that trial with the Davis heirs comin' on Old
Milt Yungthank at Pineville has looked ater their bis-
siniss fer nigh twenty year. He had Sim and some of the
boys up thayr with Winchesters about two year ago."
   "Young feller, what 's yer name I"
   "My name is Cornwall."




   "Ever been up heyr before I was in yer town onct.
I rid down to Livingston on the old gray mare, then took
the train thar, toting my saddle bags on my arm. When
I got off the train at the dee-pot, a nigger steps up and
says ter me: 'Boss, give me yer verlisse.' He didn't get
them saddle bags, you bet. I was too sharp for that. I
went to a hotel somewheres. They stuck a big book un-
der my nose and says, sign hayr. I done hearn tell of
them confidence and lightnin' rod men and I signed noth-
in'. They sent me to a room with red carpyt on the floor
and velvit cheers with flowers kinder scotched in them;
and the man behind the counter gave the nigger a lamp
and told him to cut off the gas. That nigger tried to
take them saddle bags but I hung on, when he says, all
right boss and left go. That place had a box lifter to it.
After a while I got tired of settin' in that room and
thought I would go out and see the town; so I locked the
door and come down erbout forty steps to the front door.
Then that first feller what wanted me ter sign the book
says; Leave the key and saddle bags with me. I says,
says I, You can have the key but no man gits holt of them
saddle bags. It's a good thing I brung them erlong, fer
I never did find that place ergin. I went erbout a quarter,
when I met a smart feller and he says ter me; Old man,
where're you gwinter show I says right here, by gad!
and I run my hand into them saddle bags and brung out
my cap and ball. That feller shore broke the wind, he
showed some speed. What moight yer bissiniss be a "
   "This is the first time I was ever up here. I'm a
lawyer. "
   "Yaah, one of them city lawyers; they tell me they is
cute. I have had to do some lawing lately. Down the
crick ierbout a mile Elhaninon Howard lives. Last winter
I sold Elhannon a hawg on credit fer ten dollars like a




dang fool and he wouldn't pay fer it, so I lawed him be-
fore Squire Ingram and got jedgment. That and the
costs come ter fifteen dollars and a quarter. The Squire
writ out an execution and I got the constable to levy on
three hives of bees; the constable says that's all he's got
what's exempt. We had a hell of a time moving them
bees, then we had to move them back."
   "How was that"
   "He got that lawyer from Pineville by the name of
Marshall Bull-it and the squire thinks the sun rises whar
that feller stands. The squire believed what that lawyer
said and jedged that bees is poultry and the statute says
poultry am exempt. I made up my mind that old El-
hannon had to pay that jedgment so a couple of Sundays
ago when they went to meetin', I slipped down to his
house and took a look around, counting off what the
statute said was exempt. He had jest what the law 'lowed
him. He had jest one hoss, one yoke of oxen, Tom and
Jerry, two cows and five sheep. One of them sheep was
the finest Southdown ram you ever laid yer eye on. Mon-
day morning before day I went out where my sheep was
and there was a little crippled lamb about a day old. I
picked it up and fotched it down to Elhannon's and
drapped it over the fence into his little pasture, where his
sheep were. Then I went down and got that constable
and he come and executed on that ram. Elhannon killed
and et one of his sheep, then he paid me up and took his
ram back. If I had a thousand boys I wouldn't name
narry dang one of them Elhannon. I got another little
case what comes up next fall in the Bell Circit Court,
'taint much. I low ter pay a good young lawyer about
twenty five bucks to git me off. 'Bout a month ago I
shot Caleb Spencer as dead as a kit mackrel. I was going
over Salt Trace to the mill on the river. When I got on




top of the divide he raised up from behind a log about a
hundred yards off and drew a bead on me. I saw him
jest before he pulled and I dodged. The ball cut out this
hole in my hat. I rid right peart, till I come to Gabe Per-
kins' then I hopped off my mule and, borrowing his Win-
chester, I come back the cut-off footpath. There set that
cold-blooded bush-whacker on the same log, looking
down the road the way I had kited, with his gun kinder
restin' on his knees. I rested on a stump and took him
square in the middle of the lback. He gave a yell and
jumped erbout five feet, but it was too late to jump.
'Taint nothing to it, a plain case of self-defense and
'parent necessity. But if you stay up in this country, I
like yer looks and will give yer first chance on that easy
money. "
   "I thank you for the offer. It is worth at least five
hundred dollars to undertake your defense; as it is not
a case of self-defense and apparent necessity, as you
seem to think. Much depends upon the jury in such a
case. You need a good lawyer who will be well ac-
quainted with the panel, else you may be sent to the
penitentiary. "
   "Son, you've got a lot to larn yit. Man alive! You
folks have talked so much it 's nigh erbout bed-time.
Why that boy is asleep. Would you like to turn in"



Cornwall Meets a Mountain Maid       1

                  CHAPTER II.


  After breakfast, at which the men were first served,
Mr Rogers, Cornwall, Mr Saylor and Caleb, mounting
their horses rode over Saylor's three hundred-acre sur-
vey and examined the two coal banks on the property;
which only a short distance from the house had been
opened and worked about twenty feet into the mountain,
for home consumption. One was thirty-eight and the
other fifty-two inches; the thick vein cropped out about
twenty feet above the creek level, the other was at a
higher level.
   After their examination they returned to the house
and taking seats on the wash bench near the well, talked
about every thing but the land of which Mr. Rogers and
Saylor were thinking. Finally Mr. Rogers having waited
some time for Mr. Saylor to begin, said:
   "If our company can buy the Brock and Helton sur-
veys, we will give you thirty thousand dollars for your
three hundred acres, or twenty thousand dollars for the
mineral rights with timber and right-of-way privileges
necessary to mine and remove the coal and such other
minerals, oils and gas as may be found on the property."
  "By heck! my survey is worth three times that. When
your company planks down fifty thousand in cold cash
we will trade,-not before. Then I will buy one of them
blue grass farms in sight of the distant blue mountains
and an automobil and a pianny and give Caleb and little
Susie a chance to go to the University at Lexington whar
Tom Asher and that Hall boy goes. 0 Mandy! Mr.
Rogers, hayr, just offered to gin me thirty thousand




dollars for our old mountain home which we bought two
year ago from old man Roberts for five thousand. I told
him we would trade her off for fifty thousand; not such
bad intrust for a mountain yahoo and his old woman,
He! Mandy! When that trade goes through; and they
are bound to take her, you can have one of them silk
dresses what shows black and blue and red and, green;
and Mary all the books and pot flowers and pictures she
wants. WVhat do you say to that, Mary" just as Mary
stepped from the kitchen to fill the brass-hooped cedar
bucket at the well.
   Caleb lolled on the steps in such a way as to make it
impossible for any one to descend.
   "Caleb, please let me pass"
   "Oh, go round Mary, or jump down. What do yer
bother a feller for"
   "Miss Mary, let me fill your bucket "
   "Thanks, Mr. Cornwall." (Caleb laughs)
   Cornwall took the bucket and twice let it down and
brought it up without a quart in it, while Caleb looked
on and laughed.
   Finally Mary, smiling and blushing, took hold of the
pole and helped to dip and draw up the bucket full to the
brim. Then they laugh too; and the social ice is broken
between Bear Grass and Straight Creek; between the
city-bred young lawyer and Mary, the mountain girl.
   Cornwall carried the bucket into the kitchen; at which
Caleb, in surprise, called out: Dad, look! That city feller
is helping Mary get dinner."
   After dinner, which Cornwall did not help get, rush-
ing out of the kitchen as soon as he could let go of the
bucket handle, having heard Caleb's remark; they rode
over the Brock and Helton two hundred-acre surveys and
called at their homes.



Cornwall Meets a Mountain Maid

   Mr. Rogers contracted, to purchase their land at one
hundred dollars an acre, the vendors executing bonds to
convey, each receiving one thousand dollars on the pur-
chase price; the balance to be paid after a survey and
examination of their titles.
   As they were riding home, Saylor saw a drunken man
staggering down the mountain side. When he had gotten
out of sight, he dismounted and began trailing him hack
up the mountain. Mr. Rogers called out, "The man
went the other way."
   "Oh, I know that! I want to find out where he came
from. "
   Saylor returned in a few minutes, his face beaming
with a ruddy, contented smile.
   Then, in his usually talkative mood, he expressed his
opinion of his neighbors and the transaction in reference
to their land. "There are two more dang fools, who will
move down in the blue grass and buy a farm and be as
much at home as a hoot owl on a dead snag in the noon
day sun with a flock of crows cawing at him. In about
two years they will sell out to some sharper and move
back to some mountain cove or crick bottom and start
all over again; or when they gits their money they will
hop the train cars for Kansas and settle on a govern-
ment claim twenty miles from a drap of water; then
mosey back here in about five years with nothing but their
kids, the old woman, two bony horses, a prairie schooner
and a yaller dog."
   As they came in the door, Mary was just complet-
ing preparation for supper. The table was made more
attractive by a red figured table cloth instead of the
brown and white oil cloth one. In the center was a pot
of delicate ferns. The regular fare of corn bread, hog
meat, corn field beans, potatoes, sorghum and coffee, had




been supplemented by some nicely browned chicken, a
roll of butter, biscuits and a dish of yellow apples and
red plums.
   As they came to supper, a gentle rain began falling
which continued long into the night.
   Cornwall, standing by his chair and noticing again
that places were prepared for the men only, said; "Mrs.
Saylor, the rain makes it so cozy and home-like, you,
Miss Mary and Susie fix places and eat with us; I am
sure we will all have a better time."
   Saylor stopped eating long enough to add;- Do, it
will seem like a Christmas dinner in the summertime."
   While Caleb remarked;-"He's coming along right
   Mary, with a laugh and blush and an appreciative
smile at Mr. Cornwall, added a place for her mother
and Susie, while she served the supper.
   Cornwall, who had paid little attention to the girl,
furtively watching her, was impressed by her com-
petence and winsomeness. She was a healthy sun-
browned brunette of eighteen; had attended the Pine-
ville graded school for three years and the summer be-
fore passed the examination and qualified as a teacher.
She had been given the school at the forks of the creek
and was paid a salary of thirty-five dollars a month,
most of which went to pay her father's taxes and for
   The children of her school were of divers ages and
sizes. There were lank boys taller than Marv and little
girls that needed to be cuddled and mothered. The
native children, mostly a tow-headed lot, were easily dis-
tinguished from the children of the families at the mines,
whose parents were from Naples or Palermo.



        Cornwall Meets a Mountain Maid            15

   Not even the girls from Southern Italy had blacker
hair or more dreamy eyes than Mary's. Her's was a
seeming nature and appearance made of a composite of
the girls of her school; natives of the hills and the aliens
of the blue Mediterranean.
   Some of the foreign boys who knew little English
were carefully grounded in mathematics and certain
physical sciences. Their proficiency made it a difficult
task for their immature teacher. She was aware of her
limitations and struggled faithfully to overcome them,
spending many hours to qualify herself in mathematics
and as a grammarian.
   That night, as the others were grouped about the
door, talking or listening to the rain, she sat near a table
on which burned a small unshaded oil lamp, studying
out some grievous problems to her, in the third arith-
   Cornwall, noting her worried expression and how
persistently she applied a slate rag, asked Susie, who
sat near the table, to change places with him, and mov-
ing the chair near Mary's took the slate and by a few
suggestions gave just the needed assistance; and in
such a concise way that the quick though untrained mind
of the girl found no further difficulties in solving the
other problems of the lesson.
   "Thanks, Mr. Cornwall, for helping me. At least
tomorrow I will have the best of those big boys. It is
surprising how easy the seemingly hard things are after
you have learned to do them."
   Shortly after sunrise the following morning, Mr
Rogers and Cornwall said goodbye to their host and his
family and rode off down the creek.



   They had gone but a short distance when they over-
took Mary and Susie on their way to school. They rode
slowly keeping pace with the walking girls.
   "Mr. Cornwall and I feel we should make our ex--
cuses for the additional labor our visit has caused you."
   "We are glad you stopped over at our home. The
life is lonely at times and the face and talk of a stranger
break the monotony. Besides Mr. Cornwall helped me
with mv studies. I hope when you pass this fway you
will find time to stop again."
   "I doubt if I shall come, but Mr. Cornwall, who is to
be our loeal attorney at Harlan, must return in a week or
so to supervise the Brock and Helton survevs and will
be making occasional trips to Pineville. After he be-
comes a better horseman you may see him occasionally
riding on his own saddle horse, comfortably seated on
a hard saddle and carrying his clothing and papers in a
pair of saddle bags. Now he finds the trip tiresome,
later he will find the ride exhilarating and vour house
a convenient resting place; am I right Cornwall
   "I desire to express my thanks and shall be glad of
any opportunity to stop and see you again."
   "Here we are at the Salt Trace road; you follow it
over the mountain to the river, then up the river valley
to Poor Fork which you cross almost within sight of
the town. Goodbye to both and good luck to Judge Corn-
wall; come again."
   Their road after crossing the mountains was up the
Cumberland Valley, hemmed in on the north by the
gracefully sloping spurs of Pine Mountain and flanked
on the south by the more rugged and closely encroach-
ing Cumberland mountains.
   The river gurgles and murmurs and surges along
over a bottom of boulders or lies restfully placid over a



         Cornwall Meets a Mountain Maid             17

bottom of sand. In these pool-like reaches many large
rocks, shaken from the mountain tops in ages past, lift
their gray heads high above the water and give to the
scene a touch of rugged grandeur.
   The water is so clear that the natives climb into the
overhanging elms or sycamores, or lie peering down from
a jutting rock and do their fishing with a Winchester.
   About ten o 'clock the travelers crossed the Poor
Fork and fifteen minutes later rode into Harlan Town;
and to the office of the company; a three-story red brick
building fronting the court house square.



                    CHAPTER III.


   With the exception of a few counties in western
Kentucky, no official survey was ever made of the state.
In the unsurveyed portion grants for land issued by
the Commonwealth varied in size from a few acres to
as many as two hundred thousand; and called for nat-
ural objects as beginning and boundary corners.
   The result of such a lax system was that often the
same boundary was covered by several grants; and the
senior grant held the land.
   Many grants were so indefinite of description, the
beginning corner calling for certain timber or a large
stone in a heavily timbered and in sections, rocky
country, as to be impossible of identification or loca-
tion. Other grants were so poorly surveyed as to be
void for uncertainty and yet other boundaries were
claimed by squatters who held by adverse possession
against any paper title.
   A person owning the paper title to a thousand acre
boundary traceable to the Commonwealth without
break or flaw, might not be the owner in fact of a single
acre of land; as the whole boundary might be covered
by senior grants or the natural objects called for, im-
possible to find.
   The only way to be assured of a good title was to
make a careful abstract, following that up by an actual
survey and obtaining from any person in possession a
written declaration that their possession and claim was
not adverse to the title and claim of your vendor.



            Cornwall Locates in Harlan             19

   The public records were imperfectly kept and in-
dexed; which made Cornwall's work for the company
a series of petty and tiresome annoyances.
   Two weeks after his arrival the Harlan Circuit
Court convened. He was immediately put into har-
ness and called upon to assist in the trial of several
important ejectment suits.
   The first week of the term was taken up with criminal
business. There were three murder cases, two of which
were tried. The other cases were petty in nature, the
defendants being charged with carrying concealed
weapons, shooting on the highway and boot-legging.
   During the second week he assisted in the trial of
two ejectment cases, one of which was lost. The third
and most important case was set for the fourteenth
day of the term. It involved five hundred acres of coal
land worth more than twenty-five thousand dollars;
and though Judge Finch, local counsel for the company
assured him it would go over, he had the company's
witnesses on hand and carried to the court house the
file, which included the title papers and an abstract;
but he had never examined them.
   When the case was called the other side announced
ready and they, not being able to show cause for a con-
tinuance were forced into trial.
   While the jury was being empaneled Judge Finch
leaned over and whispered:-" Go ahead and help
select the jury, the panel looks pretty good. I have
to leave." He picked up his hat and hastened from the
court room, giving Cornwall no time to object. In
about twenty minutes the jury was selected; Cornwall
being assisted by one of the company's witnesses.
   Then the court called upon him to state his case to
the jury.



   " Judge I know nothing of the case, Judge Finch
was here a few minutes ago and was to try it."
   "The case must go on; do the best you can. The
court will take a recess of fifteen minutes to give coun-
sel an opportunity to examine the papers and familiar-
ize himself with the case. Mr. Sheriff, call Judge
Finch. "
   The case proceeded in the absence of Judge Finch
and the next day in the mid-afternoon was completed;
the jury returning a verdict in favor of the compa