xt7v154dp34h https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7v154dp34h/data/mets.xml Newman, Eugene William, 1845- 1911  books b92-150-29579369 English Press of the Sudwarth Company, : Washington : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Newman, Eugene William, 1845- Men, things and events. In the pennyrile of old Kentucky  : and Men, things and events / by Savoyard [pseud.] text In the pennyrile of old Kentucky  : and Men, things and events / by Savoyard [pseud.] 1911 2002 true xt7v154dp34h section xt7v154dp34h 



IN THE



  PENNYRI LE
         OF

OLD KENTUCKY


         AND



MEN, THINGS
       AND

   EVENTS


        BY
    SAVOYARD


 Copyright, 1911, by E. W. Newman




       PRESS OF
   THE SUDWARTH COMPANY
      WASHINGTON
        1911

 
























             DEDICATION
  It is with a feeling of the liveliest satisfaction,
and a sense of the profoundest gratitude that I
inscribe this book to E. B. STAHLMAN.
                         E. W. NEWMAN.


 
FIRST BOOK



    In The
  Pennyrile
      Of
Old Kentucky

 This page in the original text is blank.


 

A PASTORALE OF THE PENNYRILE.



       I wonder in what Isle of Bliss
         Apollo breathes ambrosial air;
       In what green valley Artemis
         For young Endyinion spreads the snare;
       Where Venus lingers debonair;
         The wind has blown them all away,
       And Pan lies piping in his lair-
         Where are the gods of yesterday
  The tavern was the chief building of Chicken
Bristle, situated at the northern extremity of the
hamlet just above the intersection of the Greensburg
road. It stood for good cheer, home-like comfort,
and warm welcome. Constructed of wood it was
part log and part frame, cool in summer and warm
in winter. There was an ample front yard, at once
grove, lawn, and flower garden-here a majestic
oak, there a spreading elm, and here and there beech,
sugar maple, and locust, carefully and precisely
pruned. Scattered hither and thither beds of flowers
-roses, pinks, violets, dasies, pansies, sweet wil-
liams, and tulips-bordered the sinuous ggravei
walks. There were ferns in shady nooks; creeping
up walls and over arbors was honeysuckle-these
for the landlord's daughter. There was an enor-
mous bed of mint on the spring branch, and a bed
of tansy in the vegetable garden-these for the
landlord. The green sward was carefully tended,
close-clipped in season; plentifully top-dressed in
unseason.
  There was a large vegetable garden that yielded

 

8



abundantly to diligent and intelligent cultivation.
The orchard supplied fruits-apples, peaches, pears,
cherries, plums. A scuppernong covered the arbor
over an immense area.   There were berries in
variety and in plenty, and down in the pasture were
trees that bore prolific crops of nuts. Nearby was
the dairy with its cool stone springhouse, its burished
utensils, its arctic crystal water, its rich milk, its firm,
sweet, nutty, golden butter-these for the landlady.
The meadows were radiant in springtime, generous
in harvest time, and pleasant all time.

  The tavern was "The Good Samaritan," and
ne'er was name more aptly or more happily
bestowed. The landlord was whimsical, except in
generosity to his friends and love for his wife and
daughter; in these he was perennial; he was practical
and drank his coffee "laced"; he was epicurean and
garnished jowl and greens with poached eggs and
accompanied them with corn pone; he was quaint,
more than half believed in the evil eye, which, he said
was the mark God put upon Cain; he read the preach
ments of Solomon and delivered learned discourses
on them; he was chivalrous and never locked his
smoke-house; he was convivial and the big-bellied
bottle was always supplied and always on the side-
board; he was dogmatic and clinched an argument
with a more or less profane expletive; he was liberal
in religious faith and believed there was happines
for all beyond the tomb, except certain individuals
with whom he was involved in tedious and vexatious
and exasperating litigation. He was farmer, herder,
trader, distiller, as well as b6niface and successful
in all. He could shoot a rifle, ride a horse, chase a

 
9



fox, carve a joint, brew a punch, talk politics, and
discourse philosophy. His conscience was easy.

        Full twenty times was David loved
        For once that David was ever dreaded.

  And yet those other lines of Wordsworth need
no paraphrase when read in light of the plain, direct,
unpoetic, unaffected, practical character of this
downright man.
           A primrose by a river's brim
           A yellow primrose was to him,
           And it was nothing more.

  With a heart free from guile, with an estate free
from debt, with a spirit free from envy, with a life
free from stain, he could exclaim:
"Oh, Abner, I fear God and I fear nothing beside."

  Such was David Philpott, landlord of "The Good
Samaritan."

  His good wife, Jane, matronly and comely, the
incarnation of good nature, kind heart, and ready
sympathy, was fit helpmeet for the excellent man
with whom she was happily mated. Indeed, the
Good Samaritan owed its wide fame to her house-
wifely excellence. She was the soul of that hostelry
of which a Shenstone might have sung. Her eye,
ever alert, was in parlor and bedroom, in kitchen and
dining room, in pantry and dairy. She knew tidi-
ness, good cheer was ever associated with her, com-
fort and kindliness walked in her steps.    How
oft did that excellent husband quote the monarch

 
10



who dwelt in cedar palaces, sat on thrones of ivory,
and wore diadems of jewels-even Solomon.
"She will do him good, and not evil, all the days of her
life."
  And the compliment lodged in the grateful heart
of Aunt Jane, took root there and blossomed and
frucdfied and made her a happy woman and gave her
content that never came to Recamier or Longueville
or Montagu or Devonshire.

  But the landlord's daughter She was the idol
of her father, the joy of her mother, the pride of
the hamlet. She wvas the village beauty, the uni-
versal favorite-a nymph, a naiad, a grace, divine
of form and fair of face. With sparkling eye and
rosy cheek and ruby lip, her smile was a dream, her
song an inspiration, her love a religion.
        I saw her dance so comelily,
        Carol'd and sing so sweetly,
        And laugh and play so womanly,
        And look so debonairly,
        That, certes, I trow that nevermor
        Was seen so blissful a treasure.
        For every hair upon her head,
        Sooth to say it was not red,
        Nor yellow neither, nor brown it was.
        But oh! what eyes my lady had,
        Debonair, goode, glad and sad,
        Simple, of good size, not too wide,
        Thereto her look was not aside
        Nor overwart.
  No gathering of the young folk was complete
without Dorothy. Did the boys and girls make a
party to go nutting on the knob, it was no party if
Dorothy was not of it; did the singing class assemble
at the old log church, it was discordant song if Doro-

 
11



thy was not there. Was there a dance, it was with-
out mirth if Dorothy was absent. She led the choir
and there was religion and melody in her voice. Per-
fect health embellished her beauty and unaffected
gracefulness lent a thousand charms.
   And dark blue was her e'e.
   She was endowed by nature and trained by edu-
cation to be the wife of a strong and good man, and
the mother of sturdy boys and virtuous girls. She
said "father" and "mother" in dutiful tones, and
when, at even,
          Her gentle limbs she did undress
          And lay down in her loveliness.

  She said, "Our Father, which art in Heaven,"
reverently, confidingly, truthfully. A Christian she
was, with no more doubt of her faith than of the
sun; chaste she was, without knowledge or suspicion
of evil; simple she was and heedless of the great
world, its passions, its cruel disappointments, its
more cruel triumphs. She was reminder of the Re-
becca whom Isaac mated, and Jacob might have
blithely served for her thrice seven years. The shrub-
beries and the fountains of Arnheim might have
been planted and wrought for one like she.
  Such was Dorothy Philpott, the landlord's
daughter.

  Richard Ogilvie was the merchant's son and only
child. He was ever a welcome visitor at the "Good
Samaritan," where he spent more time between
dawn and dark than he did at home, and ate more
meals than at his father's board. The landlord found

 
12



him a good listener, and youth though he was,
Squire Philpott loved "to throw his discourse," as
he expressed it, on Dick. Dick was fond of looking
at, and talking with, Dorothy. Mayhap that is why
he was so good a listener when the old gentlleman
held forth. It was the old, old story. Boaz whis-
pered it to Ruth. It was hoary with age then, and
venerable with the repetitions of ages. It was ever
new, too, and will be new in ages yet to be. The
landlord would expatiate voluminously on Solomon,
whom he would have chosen as guide for Dick as
well as for himself. Honest man, he never dreamed
that Dick was making eyes at Dorothy. He did not
have imagination enough to live his life over again
in reverie; besides, he was too busy a man. Aunt
Jane knew why Dick was hanging around. Trust
a mother tor that. She knew that Dick danced more
frequently with Dorothy than with any other zirl at
the quilting at John Cassaday's that spring. She
knew that Dick went to Blue Spring to church not
because he was edified by the preaching of Brother
Brown, but because he rode beside Dorothy, helped
her to dismount, hitched her horse and whispered
the old, old story in her ear on the way, going and
returning. She caught the rascal's glance twoscore
times thrown toward Dorothy during the service.
She knew, too, that Dorothy was fancy free, as yet;
but that of all the boys round about Dorothy thought
most of Dick.


  The bloom was on the alder and the tassel on the corn.

  The sun had set, the moon was new, the stars were
twinkling when Dick Ogilvie made his way to the

 

13



Good Samaritan. The squire had had a more or
less heated discussion that day with his personal
friend and political enemy, Rush Higgason, the vil-
lage doctor, about the "cock" in old Jim Buchanan's
eye-it was the political campaign of 1856. As re-
marked, the squire drank his coffee "laced." On this
particular day he had drunk his whiskey juleped and
without a prudent calculation as to quantity. It is
but due him to say, however, that he rarely indulged
to the degree of excess. He had retired and was
curled up in bed in the "big room," snoring away
in the dreamless sleep of a peaceful conscience. Aunt
Jane welcomed Dick, and soon Dorothy made her
appearance in becoming lawn frock, with the identi-
cal rose in her hair that Dick had plucked and given
her that very afternoon. In those days that was a
primitive community; boys sparked the girls in sight
of the old folks. It is a custom that is honored in
the observance to this day. Dick had hoped to
have Dorothy to himself in a corner while Aunt Jane
nodded over her knitting.
  He reckoned without the squire, however. He
had not exchanged a dozen sentences with his sweet-
heart when the old gentleman gave a tremendous
snort and was wide awake. When awake he was
bound to talk, and he dearly loved to talk with
Dick. Mr. Philpott had long been investigating the
subject of electricity, then a far more mysterious
force than now. He read everything relating to it
that he could lay hands on and had experimented
in a crude way until he had satisfied himself that
he knew more about "lightnin'" than anybody else.
He claimed that he could tell where the electric
current would "strike." And it was no idle boast.

 
14



Repeatedly he pointed out trees that would be
stricken and the event vindicated him. Stricken they
were. He declared that he could build a telegraph
line over territory, regardless of distance, and that
no atmospheric disturbance would ever interrupt
communication over the wires.  He loudly pro-
claimed that he could select ground for buildings
that "lightnin'" would leave undisturbed during all
the ages. Lightning rod peddlers he abominated
and denounced as pretenders and swindlers. There
is small doubt that he was possessed of a valuable
secret of nature. Unfortunately he ould not impart
his knowledge. He could not speak of that subject
without being eloquent, and his eloquence was far
from lucid.

  He was now cocked and primed for oratory, and
oratory on his favorite topic, "lightning." Dick
knew there would be no more courting for him that
night, for Dorothy, the roquish dimples chasing over
her fair cheek, led her dad on, when her beau made
laconic answers designed to discourage debate. Mrs.
Philpott was now wide awake and greatly amused
at Dick's discomfiture and her daughter's mischiev-
ousness. The old gentleman became more and more
excited and more and more emphatic, and, by and
by, he commanded, "Jane, load my pipe." Dorothy
knew what that meant; so did Dick. The old man
was going to rise. And that was not all. He had
a contempt for, as effiminate, and abomination of,
as troublesome, the article of masculine attire desig-
nated in the lexicon of the wardrobe of that day
as "drawers." Like a frightened fawn Dorothy
sprang for the stair, and her dainty feet made a tat-

 

15



too on the steps as she bounded up them. while
her musical laugh rang out like the songs of birds,
clear, mirthful, gay, joyous. Dick hears it yet.
  Meanwhile her father, talking the while, was
undergoing the process of getting out of bed, her
mother was loading and lighting the pipe. Dick did
not know whether to blaspheme or to laugh. The
old fellow advanced to the middle of the room,
drawing on his trousers. Hitching them and adjust-
ing the suspenders, he gave utterance in a voice of
thunder to this climax of an eloquent apostrophe:
"Dick, I'm going to prove to you that Ben Franklin
was a d-   d old fool."
  This was too much for Dick, whose father had
taught him that while Franklin was not the greatest
American, he was the wisest man in the worldly wis-
dom of his day and generation, and so Dick roared
with laughter. His old friend took no offense, but
seized the pipe and settled down for a siege of
scientific discourse on his favorite topic of lightning.
Mrs. Philpott slipped quietly to bed whence her lord
had risen; Dorothy was in the land of dreams,
while her father clinched argument after argument
with expletive-not profane, simply emphatic. And
it was approaching midnight when he dismissed
Dick, who, as he made his way home, consoled
himself in the happy recollection that Dorothy had
promised he might ride with her to Three Springs
Church the next Sunday.

  That was long years agone. Dick is now an old
man, and sometimes he thinks he finds something
consolatory in the words recorded in the gospel of
St. John:


 

16



  "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast
given me, be with me where I am; that they may
behold my glory, which thou hast given me."
        Alas for lovers; Pair by pair
          The wind has blown them all away;
        The young and yare, the fond and fair;
          Where are the snows of yesterday

            A-COMIN '-AN '-A-GWINE.


  It was where two roads crossed, and yet it was
a string town. Its name-it was Chicken Bristle-
        Auld Ayr, whom ne'er a town surpasses
        For honest men and bonny lasses.
  It was at the foot of Pilot Knob. On the east
wvas Faulkner Field; on the west, Lick Swamp; but
a stone's toss to the south meandered Blue Spring
Creek, whose lympid pools, laughing ripples, and
mossy banks, now coursing green and pleasant
meadows, now winding through shady and inviting
groves, made it the loveliest stream in all the world.
It was in extreme North Barren County, and there
the sky was the bluest, the sunshine the brightest,
the grass the greenest, the flowers the prettiest, the
fruits the sweetest, the nuts the brownest, the water
the purest, the brooks the clearest-there the birds'
songs were the most melodious, the groves the most
romantic, the fields the most peaceful, the pastures
the most poetic-there the girls were the loveliest,
the boys the sturdiest-there, exempt from public
haunt, were
      Tongues in trees, books in running brooks,
      Sermons in stones and HOPE in everything.

 
17



  It was not a yeomanry-there was no squirehood.
It was not a squirehood-there was no yeomanry.
It was the Kentucky of twoscore and twelve years
agone, that elder and mayhap better day. Let him
describe it who can. Who would venture it must be
poet and patriot as well as historian.

  It was the eve of Christmas, that blessed season
that moves all hearts, Jew and Gentile, and there was
a dance at Tom Piper's. Mr. Piper was one of the
leading citizens of Bristle, the village shoemaker, an
imaginative character, and a practical man, as may
be observed anon. The company was select; pleasure
was enlarged; the elders were serene in memories
of Christmas long past; the youngsters happy in the
enjoyment of Christmas present.
  There was Tempest Ann Pierce, the belle of the
ball, with the figure of an Amazon and the beauty
of an Andalusian. She could leap a fence like a
deer and spring upon a horse without the aid of stile
or stirrup. A splendid horsewoman, she was the in-
spiration of every fox chase. There was Lucy Bul-
lington, with eyes like Hebe and arms like Aurora,
gold in her tresses, rose in her cheeks, cherry on her
lips-a colder beauty because a serener nature.
Seletta Pointer, a winsome brunette, the prettiest
girl of all Bristledom and roundabout, was there
with ravishing black eyes, lustrous, humid, liquid,
fathomless-once gazed into, forever haunting. And
there, too, also was Bede Forrest, her blooming cheek
aflame with robust health and animal spirit, her
eyes sparkling with elfish mischief and bewitching
abandon. Hers was the lightest step, hers the shape-
liest foot, hers the gracefulest form. She was the

 
18



divinest dancer. Her roguish smile might have set
Greek and Trojan a-fighting. Hers was the voice of
birds, and it could
             Hark a fish out of the water
             And water out of a stone.


  Some of the bachelors were Dick Pierce, son of
"Hypocrite" Bill Pierce, and brother of Tempest
Ann; Bluford Creedall, a resourceful individual;
Dick Ponn, a Green County man, whose suit of
blue jeans was the admiration of the girls and the
envy of the boys; and Bob Gray, the best dancer in
the crowd, more agile than all the dancing masters in
France-these were the masters of the revels. Tom
Pounds, a colored individual, made the music, and
as he brought out the dulcet strains of "The Mess o'
Chikens" every foot beat tattoo. Not even a Ful-
ton nor a Hume, nor any Scot would have supplant-
ed it with-
          Merrily danced the Quaker's wife,
          And merrily danced the Quaker.
  It was late in the day. The sun was setting in
glorious splendor just back of Riley Finn's pasture.
The snow was crisp, the air was chill. Cheerily
blazed the enormous logs of hickory and blackjack
on the wide, deep and ample hearth.
  Tempting was the savor that came from the
kitchen, where Tane Piper, Pone Trusty, and Sarah
Pierce were busily. and not laconically, preparing a
feast that would have caused old Epicurus to swal-
low his tongue in anticipation. The little pot was in
the big pot, and they made hash in the skillet. Corn

 
19



pone and sweet 'taters were to go with the 'possum;
salt rising loaf went with the turkey. There were
ham and quail and robbin and rabbit.
  In the back room were the lord of the mansion, the
elder Ponn, and Mr. Jim Cage engaged in a game of
"seven-up" at two bits "a corner." Mr. Piper had
taken the precaution to abstract from the deck the
ace of clubs, the jack of hearts, the ten of diamonds
and the deuce of spades, a proceeding on his part
of which his adversaries were blissfully, totally, and
improvidently ignorant. Experts can say whether
exclusive knowledge that the pack was short these
prominent cards gave Mr. Piper, a gentleman of
tremendous "anagosity," undue advantage. Be that
as it may, before the night was an hour old Mr.
Piper was master of all the coin in the room.

  Meanwhile all was merriment and revelry in the
ballroom.
       The mirth and fun grew Jfast and furious;
       The piper loud and louder blew;
       The dancers quick and quicker flew.
  It was exhilarating pleasure, and the boys became
monstrous dry. There was not a "drap" in the
place, saving Mr. Piper's private bottle, which had
never whet whistle other than Tom's own. Some-
thing must be done. It was evident the boys could
not dance all night without strong drink; flesh and
blood have limitations. There was no money in the
crowd of youngsters, and resort was had to strategy.
Mr. Bluford Creedall volunteered his services. It
was hailed with acclaim. It was known that Mr.
Creedall "could tell a tale." "If it's in the timber
Blufe will do it," they confidently asservated. It

 

20



was in the timber; Bluford did it. And thereby
hange a tale.

  Mr. David Oakes had title to and was possessed
of a barrel of very fine apple brandy. He was a
mighty man to take care of-Oakes; some folks
called him selfish; certain it was he could be rude
in refusing credit to those who would buy strong
waters. This particular brandy was the most de-
licious tipple ever ordered-none of your applejack
from the pumice, as they do it in New Jersey; but
exquisite nectar distilled from the cider of Herrigan
apples, rich, ripe, and red, sound and firm as a
September grown turnip. It was the last and the
choicest distillation of the venerable Barnett Huff-
man, the one artist among mortals, who ould have
brewed mighty mead for the gods on high Olympus.
Three fingers of it might have turned bloody Nero
into a Quaker. It would have discovered another
world for Alexander to conquer. It would have
brought another seduction, and the most resistless,
to Capua even to the Capua of Hannibal. Had
Horace quaffed a cup of Huffman's choicest he
would have turned down his glass to Falernain.
Lord Bacon said it was the duty of every gentle-
man to get drunk once a month; had his lordship got
mellow on Huffman's ten-year-old he would have
striken out month and inserted day in the rule of
conduct he prescribed for the gentle. Oakes had
the last of Huffman's brand, and it was precious.
W\hile ball-face whisky sold for two bits the
gallon, he held his brandy at four times as much a
pint.
  And now Mr. Creedall undertook to cozen Oakes
out of a bottle of this rare brandy. He was the

 
21



most circumstantial, the most resourceful, the most
strategical liar in all that community, and made a
fair living by his wits.
  Some years before the late Joseph Altsheler, of
Three Springs, Hart County, just over the way,
had reecived from friends in Europe several cases
of very fine wine. It was in enormous black bot-
tles, with capacity of three full pints and a generous
"hog-driver" of a drink over. Mr. Piper had man-
aged to get possession of two of these in his eyes
their special excellence was in the "hog-driver"-
and there they were on the chimney piece, dolefully
empty, Christmas though it was. Bluford seized
them. One he filled with water at the pellucid spring
at the foot of the hillock and stopped it with a corn
cob; the other, still empty, he likewise stopped with
a cob. Then he put on Dick Ponn's enormous over-
coat, and, stowing the bottles in the ample skirt
pockets, one on either side, he set sail for the domi-
cile of Mr. Oakes, some hundred yards out Buffalo
street. Arrived at that not altogether hospitable
tenement, Mr. Creedall announced that he had come
on business, important business; that his mission was
to purchase a bottle of "Old Huffman," and that it
was for sickness, otherwise he would have continued
his journey several mides to the Wallace still-house
and bought ball-face whisky. They soon agreed
on the price-it would have been in the nature of
the miraculous had they disagreed. Bluford handed
Oakes the empty bottle; it was filled at the spigot
and returned to him, and he was very careful to
secure the stopper before he hid it away in the am-
ple pocket.

 
22



  Oakes was a mighty hunter, and Creedall began
to relate to him a cock and bull story of a fine buck
Trigger-foot Gibson had slain that very morning in
the Lick Swamp. In a moment the surly Oakes was
all lively attention and began a rigid cross-examina-
tion, which brought out some wonderful details of
the affair. Mr. Creedall was precisely circumstan-
tial, even for him. Rarely had he been so fruitful of
the quality of versimilitude as on this occasion.
When he had worked his man into a hunter's ague
he turned to go and carelessly said, "Well, I must be
off; charge the brandy, Oakes, charge it."
  "I'll be    if I do," roared Oakes. "See here,
Blufe, you pay for that brandy before you leave here
or leave the brandy. That's flat. You know I don't
sell on credit. I wouldn't credit old man Trigg,
down at Glasgow, for that brandy, much less you.
Now just fork over three dollars, or hand back the
brandy, and do it quick."
  Oakes' eyes became vicious and Bluford saw it
was no time for fooling. Muttering protestation,
hinting long-standing friendship, citing numerous
obligation the house of Creedall had laid on the
house of Oakes in the past, Bluford slowly and with
seeming reluctance produced the bottle of water and
begged to taste it.
  "Not a drop, not a drop," growled Oakes, as he
removed the bung, seized the bottle, and poured
its contents into the barrel, muttering curses and
threats the while. He handed the now empty bottle
back to his would-be customer and bade him clear
out for a worthless, shifless, lying scamp and not
come that way again. Such was Mr. Creedall in
the green tree.


 

23



  In less than an hour Creed and his comrades were
glorious, over all the ills of life victorious.
        The Clackin yill had made them canty;
        They were na fu, but just had plenty.
  The sun was high in the heavens that Christmas
morning, before the dancing ceased at Mr. Piper's.


              A CORN-SHUCKING.

  Where is the man of three score in all the South
who has not fond memories and rapturous reveries
of the "corn-shucking" of the old South In sober
prose Charles Reade wrote a delightful tale of the
harvest home, and in the book of Ruth we read of
the gleaming in the fields of Boaz and the winnow-
ing in his threshing floors. Whitcomb Riley in
most delicious verse, and redolent of the soil, tells
of the sentiment and the poetry of rural life. At the
North, or rather, at the East, they had the "husking
bee," but it was only at the South, the old South,
that is now history and tradition, was the "corn-
shucking," and if it was not an institution of itself
it was an adjunct of the "institution," as slavery
was called.
  I shall never forget the fat year 1855. Ceres
and Pomona came, each with ample lap filled, and
scattered plenty over the land, until the farmers,
their wives, their sons and daughters, their man
servants and their maid servants, rejoiced and made
merry. Late in the fall when the harvest was done
and field was brown and forest was naked and frost
had heralded the approach of harsh and surly winter
-in the month of November, the glorious season of

 

24



Indian summer, when the feeling of melancholy be-
comes delicious pleasure, when the old year goes into
decay that the new year may be born, when frui-
tion begins to die to make place for the promised
seed time of the promised springtime, then was thy
time for the corn-shucking, the moonlight nights
of November. But it is tradition now-it died
with slavery and was buried with it.

  Farmer Cassidy was an energetic and an industri-
ous man, who ate no idle bread. His sons and
daughters were dutiful and diligent and his slaves
served as models for all the negroes in the vicinity
of Pilot Knob and the territory roundabout in Bar-
ren, Green and Hart counties. His fields laughed
with fatness that famous year of the '55. It is the
"barrens" country beginning on Green river, at the
mouth of Little Barren and extending through Ken-
tucky to the west of south till merged into the
glorious Cumberland valley of middle Tennessee.
In Kentucky we call it the "Pennyrile" to distinguish
it from the bluegrass. It is very fertile, and fifty
years ago it was mostly virgin. When it was first
settled it was almost as bare of trees as the Western
prairies-hence its name, the "barrens."
  When Farmer Cassidy gathered his corn that
season of 1855 it made an enormous pile, a very
mountain, and now in the splendid Indian summer
the neighbors were invited to the corn-shucking and
the succeeding feast that they might partake of his
hospitality and rejoice with him for the plenty
that blessed him. They came with their families
and their slaves and all were made welcome. Early
in the afternoon the work began at the corn pile.

 

25



White and black, two and three deep, were gathered
around the mountain of plenty, which was crudely
divided in halves by the laying of poles from apex to
base. The hands were also divided-mustered into
two companies, each captained by a black songster
and the emulation was which company should first
"shuck" through the center of the pile.

  Who that ever heard it ever forgot a "corn song"
as sung by the negroes of the old slave times It
will be a memory yet a little while longer, and then
lost forever, for it is not to be described, and the
social condition that made it is gone forever. It
was to sound what the cakewalk is to motion. It
was the germ of "ragtime" and at once plaintive and
melodious. There was the leader who improvised
the words and the chorus answered with an inde-
scribable peal not at all unpleasant, and pregnant
with what we might call rhythm. One leader that
I extravagantly admired when I was a boy of ten
used to address his words to some mysterious dusky
belle of the name of Sally. It appears that Miss
Sally was not kind, and he was telling her and the
neighbors what he thought about it. There was a
line like this:
          "I'am er-gwine 'away to leab you I"
  Then came the chorus, rich, round, sonorous,
melodious, and plaintive. As that died away the
leader addressed some information to Sally of this
import:
           "I've got my books and Bibles I"
  And that, too, was followed by the chorus half
wailing, half rollicking. The sun set and up rose the
yellow moon to lend additional animation to the work

 

26



and to the song. Faster were the shucked ears thrown
into the crib and louder was the melody. As the husk-
ing neared the finish a song of frenzy-some of it
doubtless due to the jug of new corn whisky that
had occasionally passed from hand to hand during
the evening-seized the whole concourse and they
worked like mad. As the last ear was shucked a
shout went up that might have been heard for miles.


  Meanwhile all the girls of the neighborhood were
in the "big room" at the dwelling quilting and prat-
tling and laughing and blushing. It was a race
between them and their sweethearts as to which
should be finished first-the corn pile or the quilt.
There mothers were with Mrs. Cassidy in the "fam-
ily room" deeply absorbed in the discussion of neigh-
borhood matters, the baking of bread and cake, the
roasting of fowls, the preparation of catsups, pickles
and things. The kitchen was the busiest place on
the whole plantation and ruled with iron rods by
the best cooks in the world-the old black mammies
of the old slave times.
  When the corn was in the crib, when the quilt
was on the bed, when the feast was spread in the
big dining room, the old folks ate first, and as they
sat down to the table the tuning of a fiddle was heard
in the "big room," the boys got their sw.:eethearts
for partners and the dance began. The old folks
smoked and gossiped till midnight and then went
home. The young folks danced and feasted till
daylight, and even after breakfast danced another
set before they dispersed.
   But the rollicking fun was down at the cabin-
here was the energy as well as the potery of motion,


 

27



here was the laughter that came from the happiest
hearts in all ages.
       "Nae Cotillon brent new frae France,
       But hornpipes, jigs, strathpeys and reels."
  That was the thing. We shall ne'er look on its
like again.

                OUR VILLAGE I.
  More than 100 years ago Joseph Philpott, then a
man of thirty, left Frederick, Md., journeyed west-
ward and located in the northern part of Barren
County, Ky., near the Green County line. He built
a village there a