xt7wdb7vn44r https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7wdb7vn44r/data/mets.xml Curnick, Edward T. 1922  books b92-105-27901735 English Christian Witness, : Chicago, Ill. : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Kentucky ranger  / by Edward T. Curnick. text Kentucky ranger  / by Edward T. Curnick. 1922 2002 true xt7wdb7vn44r section xt7wdb7vn44r 

The Kentucky Ranger


         Author of
A Catechism on Christian Perfection.

   The Christian Witness Co.
        Chicago, m.


                 AUTHOR'S NOTE
  The story, "The Kentucky Ranger," to a large extent
is built around the life and character of one of the most
famous early pioneer preachers of the West.
  Many of the incidents in his career are recorded, but
have been treated as to time, place and authorship ac-
cording to the demands of the work with the freedom be-
longing to the writer of fiction.
  A number of years ago some of the chapters in the nar-
rative were printed in "The Epworth Era," of Nashville,
Tennessee. Thanks are hereby extended to the paper
for releasing the copyright.

      Copyright 1922


        The Kentucky Ranger

                   CHAPTER I.

                   The Raser.
GLORY to God! another sinner's down! Glory! Hal-
Glelujah! Amen; Pray on, brother; you'll soon be
through. Glory ! Glory! "
  These words were shouted by two young men and a
young woman who were returning through the Kentucky
woods from a camp meeting. They were riding in a smart
spring wagon drawn by two good horses. The young
man who was not driving would fall into the wagon, cry-
ing for mercy, and the driver shouted: "Glory to God!
another sinner's down!" and the young lady added:
"Keep on praying, brother; you'll soon be saved. Glory!
Glory to God!" Then the young men would change
places, and the other would shout: "You'll soon get
through, brother; pray on. Glory!"
  These persons acted thus to tantalize a camp meeting
preacher who was riding on horseback ahead of them. Ile
detected their mockery and tried to outride them; but his
horse being somewhat lame he could not escape them.
  The preacher remembered that at a little distance be-
yond the road ran through a swamp but that a bridle
path wound around it. Putting spIkrs to hisK herse he
made for this path but the driver, keepihig :n the. iroad



whipped up his horses. Driving into the swamp in his
haste and excitement he did not notice a stump at the
side of the road. Crash! went the fore wheel against the
stump, and mounting to its top over went the wagon into
the mud and water. The two young men took a flying
leap into the swamp, and the young lady was thrown out.
She was almost smothered before she was rescued by the
young men. While they were in this predicament the
preacher rode up to the edge of the morass. Raising him-
self in his stirrups he shouted at the top of his voice:
"Glory to God! Glory to God! another sinner's down!
Hallelujah! Glory! Glory!" Then he added: "Now
you poor, miserable sinners, take this as a judgment from
God upon you for your meanness, and repent of your
wicked ways before it is too late." With this he left
them, covered with mud and shame, to their reflections.
  Jasper Very (for this was the preacher's name) con-
tinued on his way, now laughing at the sorry plight of his
mockers, again singing a hymn with such power that the
leaves of the trees seemed to tremble with the melody,
and anon lifting his heart in prayer to his Maker. The
object of his ride through the woods was to visit a settler
who a short time before had been caught by a falling tree
and suffered the fracture of his leg. The man of God
brought the consolations of religion to the injured man
and his family. After partaking of their plain but hos-
pitable fare, he went to the barn for his faithful horse.
While he is preparing to mount him we shall attempt to
describe this backwoods preacher's appearance.
  We see at once that he is a splendid type of Kentucky
manhood. He stands six feet two inches in his heavy
rawhide boots, but his frame is so well proportioned that
he does not seem so tall. His head is massive and his hair





as thick and disheveled 'as a lion's mane; it cannot be
kept in order. His eyes are dark blue, and can twinkle
with merriment or blaze with indignation. His mouth is
,of medium size, mobile, yet strong; when closed the
drooping corners give the face a set expression. Great
firmness and decision are shown by the broad but round-
ed chin, which forms a base for a smooth-shaven counte-
nance. His frame is large and powerful and is overlaid
with muscles hard as iron and elastic as steel. His hands
are large and have a Samsonlike grip in them. A long
coat of homespun cloth is well fitted to his body, with
waistcoat and trousers of the same material. A black
stock loosely tied about his neck sets off a white shirt of
coarse linen. His whole make-up gives one the impression
of fearlessness, determination and energy, mixed with
gentleness, kindness and charity. Humor shines in his
face like heat lightning in a summer cloud.
  Jasper Very's parents were pioneers from the State of
Virginia. Hearing of the fertility and beauty of Ken-
tucky they, like many others, decided to emigrate to that
land of promise. In 1785 they, with their infant son Jas-
per, started out to brave the perils of the wilderness.
Perils there were in plenty. Kentucky at that time was
the scene of repeated Indian raids, ambuscades, burning
of homes, scalpings, and other atrocities. The Red Man
was determined that his choicest Hunting Ground should
not be possessed by the White Man. The Indians were
met by such hardy and invincible scouts and frontiersmen
as Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton and George Rogers Clark.
For years the conflict was carried on until finally the sav-
ages were driven out of the state and its marvelous val-
leys and hills were left to the white man there to fulfil his
destiny as the aborigines had theirs before him. The Very



family escaped the horrors of battle, massacre and captiv-
ity. They settled on a site of great natural beauty in
Lincoln County, near the Tennessee line.
  While the physical surroundings of the Verys were fair-
ly entrancing, we are sorry to confess that the moral en-
vironment was anything but elevating and desirable. In
fact the neighborhood was considered one of the worst in
-lI the newly settled country. It received the name of
Rogues' Harbor and well deserved the title. Many of the
settlers had committed crimes in the Eastern States and
had fled to the wilderness to escape punishment. They
composed a majority of the people of the district, and
when arrested for breaking the law swore one another
clear in the courts of justice. At last the respectable
people combined for their own protection in an organiza-
tion called the Regulators. Several bloody encounters
took place between the Regulators and the outlaws before
order was established in the community.
  Jasper Very was a lively youngster from the start, and
surely Rogues' Harbor was not the best place in which to
bring up a vigorous and vivacious boy. He early showed
elements of power and leadership, having a remarkably
strong and well developed body, being a stranger to fear,
a wit and a wag, and loving the rude sports and pastimes
of the period. Apart from the home there were few op-
portunities for mental or religious training. Schools were
few and scarcely worthy of the name. No newspapers
were published in that section. Sunday was a day set
apart for hunting, fishing, horse-racing, card-playing,
dancing and other amusements.
  It is little wonder that Jasper became a wild and wick-
ed boy. He was a leader among his fellows in the rough
sports of the time. His father gave him a race-horse and




he became renowned among his companions for fearless
riding. At card-playing he was skillful and lucky. But
Jasper had one blessed, restraining influence which
doubtless kept him from going the full course of sin and
folly-a devout, humble, praying, Christian mother.
  Happy the boy who in the slippery paths of youth can
lean upon the loving arm of a godly mother.
  When sixteen years of age Jasper experienced a great
change of heart and conduct. It was the turning point of
his life. With his father and brother he attended a wed-
ding in the neighborhood. With others he took part in
the uproarious merriment of the occasion. Returning
home he began to think of his wicked ways, and at once
felt condemned. His mind became so agitated that his
body was affected. His heart palpitated in a very violertA
manner, his sight left him, and he thought death was at
hand. Very sure was he that he was not prepared to die.
Falling on his knees he cried to God to have mercy on his
soul. Though it was late at night his mother heard his
cries, sprang from her bed, and was soon at his side pray-
ing for her son, and exhorting him to look to Christ for
mercy. They prayed together a long time, and little sleep
came to them that night. Jasper resolved frem that time
to be a Christian. Hie asked his father t. sell the race-
horse, and gave his pack of cards to his mother, who
threw them into the fire.
  However, it was many days before Jasper really felt
that he was converted. Finally he found peace of mind
at a camp meeting. We quote from a record of his ex-
perience: "On the Saturday evening of said meeting I
went with weeping multitudes, bowed before the sand,
and earnestly prayed for mercy. In the midst of a solemn
struggle of soul an impression was made on my mind as



though a voice said to me: 'Thy sins are all forgiven
thee.' Divine light flashed all around me, unspeakable
joy sprang up in my soul. I rose to my feet, opened my
eyes, and it really seemed as if I were in heaven; the trees,
the leaves on them, and every thing seemed to be, and I
really thought were, praising God. My mother raised a
shout, my Christian friends crowded around me and join-
ed me in praising God-I have never doubted that the
Lord did then and there forgive my sins and gave me re-
ligion." He went on his way rejoicing, and before he
reached his majority became a backwoods preacher. He
had been ranging over the hills and valleys of Kentucky
for four years, preaching the gospel in many places,
when he is introduced to our readers.
  Jasper Very was known early in his ministry as a great
camp meeting preacher. Hle was always partial to such
gatherings, partly because at one of them he had found
religion. These meetings in the woods, "God's first tem-
ples," are of enough importance to merit description in
another chapter.



             An Old Time Camp Meeting.
rO    Kentucky belongs the honor of originating the
eL modern camp meeting. This is no small distinc-
tion, when we consider how these institutions have spread
over the land and the great good they have done. Camp
meetings grew out of the needs of the times. When they
providentially sprang up in Kentucky, the frontier was
sparsely settled, most people living miles away from any
church. Such churches as were built were small and
could accommodate only a few persons, and preaching
services were often weeks apart.
  The revivals of genuine religion which usually attend-
ed these gatherings were much needed in the backwoods.
Most of the settlers were honest, law-abiding persons,
who had sought to improve their means by emigrating to
this western country; but many of the vicious off-scour-
ing of the older settlements also went west to hide their
crimes or to commit new ones. Rogues' Harbor was only
an extreme type of many law-defying places. Murder-
ers, thieves, gamblers, defaulters and their kind put life
in peril, and threatened the moral and social order of the
state. These camp meetings strengthened and encourag-
ed good people, reformed many bad men and women, and
thus became a saving leaven of righteousness.
  And what a place for a camp meeting was the Kentucky
forest. What nature poet can do justice to such sylvan
loveliness as we find in the "Blue Grass Region" The



pen must be dipped in the juices of that Edenic vegeta-
tion and tinted with the blue of that arching sky to record
such beauty. What stately trees! They seemed like pil-
lars in God's own temple. The rich, warm limestone soil
gave birth to trees in form and variety scarce equaled in
the world. Here grew in friendly fellowship and rivalry
the elm, ash, hickory, walnut, wild cherry, white, black
and read oak, black and honey locust, and many others.
Their lofty branches interlocking formed a verdant roof
which did not entirely shut out the sun's rays but caused
a light subdued and impressive as the light in a Saint
Paul's Cathedral.
  In such a forest was pitched the camp to which Jasper
Very returned. Let me describe this old-fashioned camp
ground. A large, rough shed was erected, capable of
protecting five thousand persons from wind and rain. It
was covered with clapboards and furnished with punch-
eon seats. At one end a large stand was built, from which
sermons were preached. A few feet in front of this stand
a plain altar rail was set, extending the full length of the
preachers' stand. This altar was called the "mourners'
bench." All around the altar a liberal supply of fcesh
straw was placed upon which the worshippers knelt. On
three sides of the large shed camps or cabins of logs were
built for the use of the attendants. In the rear of the
preachers' stand was a large room which accomm-llated
all the ministers who labored in the meeting. The effect
at the camp at night was very striking. At intervals of
several rods log fires were kept burning and the bright
light they threw was contrasted with the deep darkness
  It is astonishing to read how great an attraction these
eamps became to the hardy pioneers of the Kentucky wil-




derness. People gathered from all quarters in all kinds
of vehicles, some traveling thirty or forty miles. Many
came in covered wagons in which they slept at night.
History records, that at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, a camp
meeting was held attended by twenty thousand people.
  It is ten o'clock Sunday morning at Oak Grove Camp
Meeting, where our hero Jasper Very is laboring. Thou-
sands are in the great wooden structure, filling every seat
and standing many deep beyond the edges of the build-
ing. The preachers' stand contains twenty-five or thirty
ministers gathered from many parts of the State. The
crowd has even overflowed this stand, and all available
room is occupied.
  The Christians present have been prepared for this ser-
vice by the cabin meetings held at six o'clock in the morn-
ing and a prayer and testimony meeting in the tabernacle
at eight. And now the service begins. A stalwart son
of the prophets arises and announces the hymn:
          "Come, sinners, to the gospel feast,
          Let every soul be Jesus' guest:
          There need not one be left behind,
          For God hath bidden all mankind."
He starts the first note, and thousands take up the in-
spiring strain, and the glorious music rolls through the
forest like the sound of many waters. A passage of
Scripture is read and a fervent prayer offered. A second
hymn is sung: "There is a fountain filled with blood,"
and far away the cadence is heard rising and falling,
thrilling waves of sound.
  The song is ended. A rustling noise is heard as the
people settle themselves in their places, and then a deep
quiet ensues as they look expectantly toward the preach-




ers' stand. One whispers to another: "Who is to be the
preacher this morning"  They are not left long in
doubt. Slowly the minister arises. It is Jasper Very,
the star preacher of the camp meeting. He comes before -
his audience with a humble self-possession which is re-
flected in the composure of his face. How did he obtain
this self-possession Reader, we must lift the veil some-
what and let you see.
  In the morning he had gone into the deep woods to
study and pray, as was the wont of the forest preachers.
Here he had prayerfully and carefully completed the out-
line of his sermon. Then a great burden of unfitness and
helplessness came upon him. Like his Master he threw
himself prone upon the ground and poured out his soul to
the Father. "O God," he cried, "who am I, that I should
be thy ambassador to beseech sinners to be reconciled to
thee Who am I that I should stand between the living
and the dead and offer life and immortality to men Thou,
0 God, only art my sufficiency, my hope, my expectation.
Stand by my side and help me in this hour, for my need
is great. This I ask in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ.
  Coming thus from the hidings of divine power, with
the Spirit of God like dew resting upon him, he announces
his text: "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call
ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his
way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him
return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him;
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
  He began by describing the way of the wicked. lIe
unmasked sin, showing its hideous deformity, how it pol,
lutes the soul, and makes man unfit for fellowship with a
holy God. Then he passed on to show the guilt of sin, the




awful misery coming to a man when he is face to face with
his iniquities. With great skill he pointed out condemn.
nation arising from particular transgressions,-the de-
faulter fleeing from his country, the murderer with his
victim's bloody form ever before his mind's eye, the lust-
ful man tortured and consumed with the rewards of his
own folly. Continuing, he proceeded to tell the final
punishment of these sinners. In those days ministers at
camp meetings preached a literal hell; and as the speaker
uncovered the pit of destruction and compelled his hear-
ers to look into it many felt that they were "hair hung
and breeze shaken" over the mouth of perdition.
  Now his manner changed. His voice, instead of being
loud and startling like thunder, producing awe and ter-
ror, became sweet, tender, and appealing, like a shepherd
calling his sheep to the fold.
  Having opened the wounds of sin, he poured into them
the cordial of gospel grace. He dwelt upon the words,
"abundantly pardon," showing how God had planned to
put away sin by the gift of his Son and had promised for.
giveness to all guilty mortals who with hearty repentance
and true faith looked to Christ for salvation.
  As he exalted the world's Redeemer from one plane to
another his soul was lifted up with indescribable joy and
exultation. His voice and form were in attune with his
soul. We have read that this man's voice could be heard
a mile, and on this occasion it surely reached to the ut-
most bounds of that great assembly. Extending his arms,
as though he would enfold the multitude and present
them to the Savior, he besought sinners to flee from im-
pending wrath, to come to the altar and be saved from
sin so that they might "read their titles clear to mansions
in the skies."




  The effect was tremendous. At once a rush was made
for the mourners' bench and it was soon filled. Many
were stricken where they sat in the congregation and fell
on their knees imploring mercy. Around the mourners
gathered the saints of God, counseling, advising, quoting
suitable passages of Scripture, praying with the penitents.
When the meeting finally closed long after the dinner
hour, scores professed conversion, and a great victory for
morality and religion in Kentucky had been won.


                  Swapping Stores.
THE ministers were in the preachers' room on the af-
    ternoon of this camp meeting day. They were scat-
tered about in delightful abandon. Some had thrown
themselves on rough cots; others were lounging on rude
benches which served as seats; the few plain chairs which
the place boasted were also occupied. Most of the men
were regaling themselves with the fragrant Kentucky to-
bacco, and the blue smoke ascended in widening spirals
to the rafters above. They felt they must unbend after
the severe mental tension of the morning.
  What a fine spirit of comradeship is found among a
group of preachers of one heart and mind. Can anything
on earth surpass it Here we find the hearty handshake,
the contagious laugh, faces bright with smiles, a free flow
of talk. We see hilarity without vulgarity, wit that
sparkles, but does not burn, as when a bright sally direct-
ed at some brother's foibles is met with a quick repartee.
We listen to anecdotes which cheer and enliven the senses
without hurting the conscience or debasing the mind.
  "Brother Larkin, give us a bit of wit or philosophy
from 'Poor Richard' or tell us one of your good anec-
dotes. "
  The man addressed was John Larkin. He was about
thirty-five years old and was known as the "square man"
both as to body and mind. His head seemed more square
than round, and was set upon a strong neck which rested



upon square shoulders. From shoulders to the ground he
was in the form of a parallelogram. His hands were wide
and short, the fingers being of nearly equal length, giv.
ing the hands a blunt, square appearance. His gray eyes
were wide apart, having a sly and merry cast in them,
while crow lines in their corners gave them a laughing
expression. His firm mouth and square chin showed that
he could mingle seriousness with mirth. He was consid-
erably under the average height, but thickset and strong.
  John Larkin was of New England descent. When a
small boy he had moved with his parents from "'way
down East" to far-famed Kentucky. There he helped his
father clear the wilderness and make a comfortable home.
At twenty-three years of age he was powerfully convert-
ed, and soon after became a traveling preacher.
  John had stored his mind with the homely proverbs of
Benjamin Franklin and many bright sayings of other
writers. lie saw the ludicrous side of things and was
fond of telling anecdotes: Hence the request which a
brother minister made of him.
"About two months ago," said Larkin, "I had an ap-
pointment to preach in a private house. The boys of the
family had a pet sheep which they had taught to butt.
Going near him, they would make motions with their
heads, and the sheep would back out and dart forward at
the boys; but they would jump aside and so escape. A
drunken man came into the congregation and sat on the
end of a bench near the door. He had caroused the whole
night before and presently began to nod. As he nodded
end bent forward, the sheep came along by the door and
seeing the man moving his head up and down, took it as
a banter and backed and then sprang forward, and gavy
the sleeper a severe jolt right on the head, and over he




tilted him. The whole congregation laughed outright
and I joined in with them."
  The preachers laughed at the story as heartily as those
who saw the occurrence. One stout parson remarked:
"The tipsy man surely was the butt of that joke." A
clergyman from down Cumberland River way said: "I
hope the sheep knocked drunkenness out of him and com-
mon sense and decency into him."
  Larkin, his face wreathed in smiles, turned to a great
strapping -Kentuckian, and said: "Now Brother Harvey,
let us hear from you."
  The man addressed was well known by the company.
Naturally strong he grew up on a farm, where his out-of-
doors life added to temperate habits gave him a finely
developed body. He lived with his wife and five grown
up children on a splendid quarter section of land border-
ing on the Cumberland River. He was a lay preacher,
cultivating his farm week days and preaching on Sunday.
  "Well, brethren," began David Harvey, "I could tell
you stories of wild Indians, panthers and wild cats that I
saw in my youth, and some tolerably trying experiences
I have been through since becoming a preacher, but today
I am going to repeat a tale I heard not long ago concern-
ing Jasper Very. He seems comfortable there sitting on
one bench with his feet on another, and if my story lacks
anything he can supply the missing links.
  "Brother Very was attending a camp meeting in the
edge of Tennessee when an incident of thrilling interest
occurred. Two young men, distantly related, sons of re-
spectable and wealthy parents, lived in the settlement.
They were both paying attention to a very wealthy young
lady. Soon a rivalship for her hand sprang up between
them, which created a bitter jealousy in the heart of




each. After quarreling and fighting they both armed
themselves, and each bound himself by a solemn oath to
kill the other. Armed with pistols and dirks they attend-
ed the camp meeting. Brother Very was acquainted with
the young men, and had been told of the unfortunate af-
fair. On Sunday he was preaching to a large congregation
on the terrors of the law. Many fell under the preaching
of the word. He called for mourners to come to the altar
and the two young men, deeply convicted of sin, came and
knelt before God. One entered on the right and the oth-
er on the left, each being ignorant of the act of the other.
The preacher went deliberately to each of them, took
their deadly weapons from their bosoms, and carried them
into the preachers' room. Returning he labored faithful-
ly with them and others nearly all the afternoon and
night. These young men cried hard for mercy, and while
he was kneeling by the side of one of them, just before the
break of day, the Lord spake peace to his soul. He arose,
and gave some thrilling shouts. Jasper then hurried to
the other young man, at the other side of the altar, and
he was saved in less than fifteen minutes and, standing
upright, shouted victory. As these young men faced
about they saw each other, and starting simultaneously,
met about midway of the altar, and instantly clasped each
other in their arms. What a shout went up to heaven
that night from these young men, and from almost all the
number present."
  This narrative strongly affected the group of ministers,
and some more emotional than others shouted: "Praise
the Lord! Hallelujah!"
  "Brother Very, did I tell the story right " said Harvey.
  "You told it about as it was," responded Very, "only
there is this sequel to add: one of these young men made




an able and successful preacher. After traveling a few
years his health failed, and he died triumphantly."
  A sallow-faced parson from the river-bottoms remark-
ed: "Jasper Very has been through many trying exper-
iences, and I am going to ask him to tell us how he con-
quered that cantankerous woman by tact and muscles."
  Thus appealed to, Very told the following anecdote:
"Some time ago I crossed the Ohio River into the State
of Illinois where I had some preaching engagements. On
one of my tours I met a local preacher who was a small,
good natured, pious and withal a useful preacher. He
had a wife who was a noted virago. She was high tem-
pered, overbearing and quarrelsome. She opposed her
husband's preaching, and was unwilling he should ask a
blessing at the table or conduct family prayers. If he
persisted in his effort to pray she would run noisily about
the rooms and overturn the chairs. If unable to stop him
any other way she would catch a cat and throw it in his
face while he was kneeling and trying to pray. The little
man had invited several preachers to his home to talk
with the woman and bring her to a better frame of mind,
but she cursed them to their face and raged like one pos-
sessed. Several times he invited me to go home with him,
but I was afraid to trust myself. I pitied the poor little
man so much that finally I yielded, and went home with
him one evening. When we arrived I saw she was mad,
and the devil was in her as big as an alligator. So I de-
termined on my course. After supper her husband said
very kindly: 'Come, wife, stop your little affairs, and let
us have prayers.' To this she replied: 'I will have none
of your praying about me.' Speaking mildly, I expostul-
ated with her, but to no use; for the longer I spoke the
more wrathful she became, and she cursed me most bitter-




ly. Then I spoke sternly and said: 'Madam, if you were
a wife of mine, I would break you of your bad ways, or I
would break your neck.'
  " 'The devil you would!' she said. With this she pour-
ed upon me such a torrent of curses as was almost beyond
  "'Be still,' said I, 'we must and will have prayer.'
Again she declared we should not.
  " 'Now,' I remarked to her, 'if you do not be still, and
behave yourself, I'll put you out of doors.' At this she
clenched her fist, swore at me, and told me I could not put
her out. I caught her by the arm, and swinging her
round in a circle brought her up to the cabin door, and
shoved her out. She jumped up, tore her hair, foamed,
all the time swearing in a terrible way. The door was
made very strong to keep out hostile Indians. I shut it
tightly, barred it, and went to prayer. Under such con-
ditions praying was difficult, I assure you, but I was de-
termined to conquer or die.
  "While she was raging, foaming and roaring on the
outside I was singing with a loud voice spiritual hymns
on the inside to drown her words as much as possible.
At last she became perfectly exhausted and panted for
breath. Then she became calm and still, and knocking
at the door said: 'Mr. Very, please let me in.'
  " 'Will you behave yourself, if I let you in' said I.
  " '0 yes,' replied she, 'I will.' With this I opened the
door, took her by the hand, led her in, and seated her by
the fire-place. She was in a high perspiration, and look-
ed pale as death. After she was seated she said: 'What a
fool I am.' 'Yes,' said I, 'about one of the biggest fools I
ever saw in my life. Now, you have to repent of all this or
your soul will be lost.' She sat silent, and I said 'Broth-



               SWAPPING STORIES                  19

er C., let us pray again.' We kneeled down and both
prayed. His wife was as quiet as a lamb. And what is
better, in less than six months this woman was soundly
converted, and became as bold int the cause of God as she
had been in the cause of the wicked one.' "



              The Trail of the Serpent.
WTHILE these ministers of grace were engaged in
      pleasant conversation a different kind of a crowd
had met not far away. They were moonshiners. Their
rendezvous was a cave near the top of a hill about one
mile back from the Cumberland River. A motley com-
pany of about a dozen men they were, dressed in cheap
trousers supported by ".galluses," coarse shirts, and wide-
brim straw hats.
  Sam Wiles was leader of this band. As these pages
are often to be burdened with his name, we shall now
take his measure. He belonged to that part of the popu-
lation called "poor whites." His parents had come to
the settlement when Sam was a little boy. They were
poor, shiftless, improvident, ignorant, and, worse than
all, apparently contented with their lot. They dwelt in
a log cabin in the hills, and in a haphazard way cultivated
a few acres of half-barren land, raising a little corn, to-
bacco, hay, fruit, and a few vegetables. There were six
children in the family, of whom Sam was the oldest. Five
dogs guarded the house and helped to make the inmates
poor. "Tige," the coon dog, was the favorite of this
  Sam Wiles was the brightest of the children, his mind
being naturally active; but he had little disposition for
study and very meager opportunities, for "school kept"
only a few weeks in a year. At the time of this story he



had just passed his majority, was somewhat above me-
dium height, solidly built, with broad, square shoulders.
His brown hair hung several inches below a coonskin cap
he wore, and was supplemented by a large mustache of
which he was very proud.
  Behold this leader of the moonshiners as he stirs the
fire of logs under the still and speaks to his pals:
  "That war a mighty fine trick I played on Dick Grang-
er, the revenue deputy t'other night. He was after me
with his dorgs, and saw me as I was crossin' the road near
Franklin Schoolhouse.