The Mother Goose Boutique | The Bourbon Soaked Mom

If you think of Hazard, there may a few things come to mind. To those who call the town home, there is one distinctive house that everyone knows and loves: The Mother Goose.

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Yes, the Mother Goose home is exactly what it sounds like, a home with a roof in the shape of a goose. Complete with it’s own set of blinking goose-eyes. I can’t make this stuff up, but it’s one of the many things that make our town unique. Hazardites have become so accustomed to the home being there, we rarely think anything about it, but others come from far and wide to get a glimpse of the Mother Goose home! The home has been featured on many national television shows, including the Oprah Winfrey show.

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“When you get a gander at this house in Hazard Kentucky, you might think you’ve gone quackers, but it really is a Mother Goose house complete with egg shaped windows.  It’s been a fixture here for over 60 years.” – Oprah Winfrey

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The Mother Goose has a long standing history with Hazard. Built in the 1930’s by George Stacy, the home was a labor of love and took nearly 6 years to complete. Most of the sandstone was hauled to the site by the Stacy family, which they got from the area’s various creeks and rivers. The Stacy family lived in the house until George passed away years ago. Why a goose? When George was little it was Christmas tradition to have a goose for dinner after it was picked clean, it’s bones made a fascinating shape. George told his parents that one day he’d live inside a Goose. Now we all have this beautiful home to admire. The house has been a gas station, a grocery store, and a convenient store in it’s time. There was also a period of time in the early 2000’s when it was a sort of bed and breakfast where you were able to stay in it overnight. Now the Goose has been given new life in the form of a quirky little boutique that is just as cute and eccentric as the home itself.

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Shannon McIntosh has given us all a fresh breath of air in opening the Mother Goose Boutique, not just in opening a new business (which we desperately need) but allowing us ALL access inside the heart of Mother Goose. As a life long resident of Hazard, in all my years I’d never been inside until I wandered in Shannon’s store. Going inside the Goose (for me) was always something I had wanted to do. How could you not wonder about what the inside is like? Who wouldn’t want to make the trip just to say they got to go inside the famous Goose? The Mother Goose Boutique is located inside the goose nest. “The nest” was always the store front even when George and Marie had it with a live bear and monkey out front! This part was built in 1937. He built the home “the mother goose” in 1940. It’s a two bedroom very spacious one of a kind shape.

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The Goose has been in Shannon’s family for nearly two decades, and she adds that they hope it always will be. When I visited her several weeks ago, I was enjoyed how quaint, and welcoming the atmosphere was and truly enjoyed my time in there just browsing and talking.

Shannon’s business is also helping local artisans and vendors and promoting Kentucky proud products, an idea that I have strongly advocated and supported since beginning my blog almost three years ago. I love when small business owners rally around their communities and give back to the people who support them, and that is exactly what Shannon is doing. The Goose serves as a mecca for those would want to sell their home made goods. The Goose has a wide variety of products from a children’s line that is designed and manufactured right here in Kentucky, to locally made goat’s milk soap and lotion, (which I swear by to help my eczema) wood working gifts, and signs, jewelry, holiday decor, and women’s clothing. The Goose will also deliver hand-picked gifts around town, including a wide range of bereavement gifts, or gifts “just because”.

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There is truly something for everyone in the Goose boutique. The young, the old, and even the history buffs like myself who go in just to be nosy and who leave with arm-fulls of locally crafted goods, and a lot of East Kentucky pride.

If you’re in the Hazard be sure to check out the Mother Goose Boutique!

“Ky proud is our goal for the gift shop part of the boutique. We have some of the most talented folks here hidden in the mountains and their talents need displayed. We are so excited to bring life back into our precious gem tucked in these hills.” -Shannon McIntosh

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 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Mother-Goose-Boutique-1312575805437122/

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I Hope My Kids Appreciate Growing Up Appalachian |The Bourbon Soaked Mom

We all have things we want for our children. I want mine to realize their own potential and use that for whatever reason they deem “right”. However, a close second is my want for them to understand that the most important things in life are not derived from material or wealth. I am not a cultured person who as been around the world, so there may be a million ways for a person to come to this realization, but I know how that truth came to me, and it was from growing up in these mountains.

When I remember growing up, a lot of imagery rushes to my mind. A slight breeze brushing through the mountain pine. The smell of freshly mowed grass in the summertime. The wafting aroma of fried-something seeping out of a window in my Grandmother’s house, pulling children to the kitchen way before the parents had need to stand on the porch to yell for us. Sweet cherries and wild strawberries eaten ripe and dirty, straight from the tree and vine. Taking a salt shaker to a garden tomato patch, wiping off a dusty heirloom and taking a ripe, juicy bite right off the plant. Rough, dirty feet from running barefoot on gravels and wading through cool, clear creek-water. The smell of bug spray (preferably Skin-So-Soft, if you had an Avon lady in your family), and citronella candles on a back porch at dusk. The sound of a Caywood Ledford or Tom Leach blaring from a television set on a Saturday night, coupled with the randy, hostile, and sometimes poetic cuss-word- laced shouting of adult cousins, Aunts, Uncles and even parents that accompanied any call deemed “not in the favor of the CATS”. Even though those may be some major memories that have been burned permanently in the back of my brain, it’s more than just that. My mountain raising has continually cast an enveloping state of consciousness on the way I hope to raise my kids. The way I AM raising my kids. It’s heritage. It’s a way of living. It’s a lifestyle.

I look back at a childhood unmarred by the presence of social media. A childhood where if you wanted to speak directly to someone you had to call them on a landline and go through the unspeakable horror of hearing their parents pick up first, and then put them through. We actually had to speak to our friends in person by going to their home. A childhood where there was no such thing as “cyber bullying” and the only real worry we had was that the street light would come alive on too early an evening and we’d all have to go on home without finishing our game of “Annie over the mountain”.

A childhood where you crowded around the kitchen table with Mamaw or Pap and listened intently while you were taught how to roll out a dumpling, or can a quart of berries. A childhood where you learned to peel an apple with a Case knife when you were 12, the peel curling in an unbroken chain. You were proud to be able to shoot a pop ( or occasional beer) can dead-eye with your Red Ryder BB gun.

I hope my kids appreciate growing up Appalachian. I hope they look at these green hills with a sense of reverence and pride, just the same as my parents and Grandparents taught me to do so many years ago. I hope they fly down gravel roads with scraped knees and dirty bare-feet and revel in the raw and rowdy beauty of a summertime spent picking black berries and killing copperheads with garden hoes. I hope they relish that same sense of freedom. I hope they are poked with briars, and pick fresh mint from the garden to put in their peach sweet tea. I hope they help their Grandparents mix the perfect sugar water concoction to pour in red hummingbird feeders, and watch in awe as they flutter their wings, sip after sip. I hope they stay up late on a porch swing and hear the howl of coyotes, screeching hoot-owls and shrill-toned whippoorwills.

I hope they learn how to grow an heirloom tomato, and recognize ginseng root. I hope they love going dry land fishing, and learn to soak them in a salt water bath before cookin’ em up right. I hope they walk into the woods and feel a sense of kindred appreciation and awe for these mountains, but at the same time, fear and respect. I hope they love these hills for what they are, beautiful and mysterious, fabled and completely mystifying.

I hope they grow up to brag about being sons of Appalachia. I hope they roll in dark kudzu, and catch a lot of craw-dads. I hope they climb under sounding rocks and find arrow heads, fossils, and brag about how they (not so accurately) have “Cherokee” blood running through their veins. I hope they love this land they were raised on, and never forget it.

I want my children to have this same care-free childhood.  I want them to revel in the kind of freedom I experienced as a barefooted, stringy headed, hill-baby in the mountains of East Kentucky. Just a simple kid who enjoyed the finest, but simplest pleasures that life had to offer me. The cool creek bed, the itchy grass, and the pleasure of roaming an Appalachian mountainside unrestricted with limitless possibilities. I want them to remember their heritage, and pass it down. It feels like a simpler time, but I look around and many of my Appalachian brothers and sisters are finding the joy and beauty in teaching their children to appreciate, value and respect their heritage. To not only cherish it for themselves, but to be proud of it, and to advocate for their towns and region. To me, an Appalachian upbringing in not complete without a sense of pride, and an urge to defend the region we call our home.

When they are grown and possibly move away, I want them to feel excited at the first glimpse of those mountain ridges when they are coming home. I want them to feel relieved when they see those soft, rounded hills and lush green valleys. I hope they never lose their ability to see the beauty in how life is lived here. I hope they tell stories to their friends of life “back home”, and how there’s not another place in the entire world like Appalachia. Because there isn’t. I hope they remain stubbornly proud to be privileged enough to have been raised in an area where you’re taught to work hard, respect and love people, and enjoy the life you’ve been given.

Words were not made to truly convey these feelings. I believe that being apart of it is the only way to experience Appalachia. My only hope is to provide the roots for my children and trust they will one day understand how important they were to their fruit. Even for me, it has been an idea that has been so ingrained that it took quite a few years for its true importance to finally dawn. My feet have been so connected to these hills for so long that their own heartbeat has harmonized with my own; slowly, unknowingly, but detrimentally, to the point that I often have the fleeting feeling that should my heart not beat with these hills, that it may not beat at all.

“God knew that it would take brave and sturdy people to survive in these beautiful but rugged hills. So He sent us His very strongest men and women.”-Verna Mae Slone 

In Appalachia: Caring for Your Cast Iron Skillet |The Bourbon Soaked Mom|

All across the South, and especially in Appalachia, there is one piece of cookery that every woman must own. The Cast Iron Skillet.

It’s almost as if cast iron is our birth right and if we don’t own at least a skillet, we’ve been deprived of our mountain inheritance.

I do a lot of cooking in a cast iron skillet. Not just any cast iron skillet though. This deep dished dutch oven cast iron beauty that I have is a hand me down that was my great-grandma Lottie’s. I cherish it, so I take careful pains to make sure it stays in great shape.

I have a lot of people who come and watch me cook and ask me how I keep my cast iron looking fresh. Here are some of the ways that I researched, tried and have found to be true in making sure your cast iron stays beautiful and in tip top shape.

 

1: Be sure to season it before you cook in it. Wash it with warm soapy water, first thing. This is the LAST time you will ever wash it with soap.

2: Douse it in lard, bacon fat, etc. You can use crackling, or just fry bacon. Anything to get that fat on there so it can fill up the porous spots on the skillet. This is seasoning your skillet. Most say the only real tried and true way to season a cast iron skillet is definitely with lard. Some skillets say use vegetable oil, but that can be a mess. Use lard, pig fat is always the way to go.

3: After each use be sure to scrub the inside with bacon grease and wipe out the excess. The salt in the grease helps to preserve the skillet and makes it into a “nonstick” surface. NEVER, and I mean NEVER EVER EVER put it in the dishwasher. I made that mistake as a newly wed and nearly ruined a perfect skillet set that was a present. Use only cold water and a soft bristled brush, then dry it and wipe it down with grease.

Most cast iron skillets are durable enough to last several lifetimes. Seriously, the one I have from my Great-Grandmother is probably close to a hundred years old and I’m not sure why, but it just makes food taste better, fries chicken crispier, and gravy comes out thicker.

No true Appalachian woman, or Southerner neglects her cookery, and we sure as hell do not neglect our cast iron. Be sure to take good care of your skillets, and you will be passing them down to your great grand children one day.

In Appalachia: The Two Lane Highway Wave |The Bourbon Soaked Mom|

Have you ever noticed something major about traveling down an old two lane in Eastern Kentucky? Almost everyone you meet, whether you know them or not, will wave at you. Not just a regular wave, though. There is a certain code we follow when addressing a car-to-car greeting. You have to master and perfect your own technique, and there may even be a specific way of “waving” in your area.

In my neck of the woods, it’s usually a two finger wave, or possibly a tip of the index finger elevated slightly off the steering wheel. Some even use a head nod accompanied by the four-finger lift with the palm resting lightly on the top of the steering wheel. Some flap all five fingers carelessly as others pass, and the real gems of the area (usually older ladies) will sweetly do the excited wave where the entire hand is extended from the steering wheel and is waving furiously in your direction. Those are usually the happiest and most enthusiastic, it doesn’t matter if they know you or not. Either way, if you’re from the Appalachians, the South and especially rural Eastern Kentucky, I know you recognize this.

Don’t ask us why this is a thing, because no one seems to know. EVERYONE around here is brought up knowing this is a special code of etiquette that should never be broken. Not only is it deemed completely normal to wave at strangers, but this is expected. I am always mildly horrified if I’m driving down the road and miss a wave that someone has doled out. It’s always better to be the person who waved, than the person who didn’t wave back.

It’s a part of who we are here, and the ever present principal that you’re supposed to love your neighbor and be cordial to everyone…..even those you probably don’t know. Our area has a long history of relying on our communities, and raising one another up in hard times and trials. Most folks are always apt to lend helping hands, and open hearts to those in need. It truly shows in the way we carry ourselves, especially in little things that are simple a gesture as a wave in a passing car, you just come to realize that those little things, are actually pretty big things.

 

 

Know Your Kentuckians: Verna Mae Slone |The Bourbon Soaked Mom

Once in a blue moon someone comes along that so unexpectedly knocks your socks off that you really never even saw it coming. For me, Verna Mae Slone is that person. I’ve grown up in a land where Slone’s name is synonymous with Knott county, the border county to my native Perry. Known as the “Grandma Moses” of Appalachia, Slone has left a lasting impression on those from Eastern Kentucky, Appalachia and all over the world. I am proud to claim this strong, influential lady among the ranks of those of who are unabashedly proud of being from Eastern Kentucky, and who aren’t afraid to portray this region in a strong, and positive light. God knows we need more in the area like her.

Verna Mae Slone was a special brand of Appalachian hero. A strong and stout East Kentucky lady with endless wisdom and intelligence gained from years of experiences that could never be taught within the walls of any school room. A Knott county native, and advocate for the mountain people of her region, Slone’s enduring voice still echoes through the legacy she left, not only in her hometown, but through her first (and my favorite) book, “What My Heart Wants to Tell” The work debunks the myth of the barefooted hillbilly, allows insight into the grit and gall it took to survive the wilderness of Appalachia in the early days, and it gives all us hill folk something in which to take pride. It is a sweeping, sharp and heartfelt look back into the history of a way of life that is being forgotten, as well as the art, craft and traditions of those who paved the way for all of us. Slone’s book paints a vivid detail of the characteristics of our region and the importance we hang on family and community.

Born October 9, 1914, Verna Mae Slone spent her entire life in Pippa Passes, Kentucky. She was raised by her father, Kitteneye Slone, after her Mother died when Verna Mae was just six weeks old. A mother to five sons, as well as a quilter, doll-maker, and advocate for the preservation of Appalachian life and culture, Slone found her voice later in life, writing about her experiences in the mountains for her grandchildren. Never expecting much to come from her musings, Slone’s writing became popular among her relations and were passed around. Soon, she began receiving recognition and had the chance to publish her stories, thus was born her first book, What My Heart Wants to Tell. Slone’s sense of pride about being Appalachian, coupled with the simple and dignified way she expresses her admiration and love for her region and culture is second to none. East Kentucky lost one of the best in 2009 when at 94, Slone’s voice fell silent.  Her efforts to put right the myths and injustices the outside world believe, and force upon those who were born and raised in the mountains, will make you feel proud to claim an individual who loved her land so much and made sure that everyone knew it.

 

“So many lies and half-truths have been written about us, the mountain people, that folks from other states have formed an image of a gun-totin’, “baccer” spitting, whiskey-drinking, barefooted, foolish hillbilly, who never existed, but was conceived and born in the minds of the people who have written such thinks as Stay on Stranger and the Beverly Hillbillies. And as lies seem to be more easily believed than truths, no matter what we do, we can’t make folks believe we are any different. These lies and half-truths have done our children more damage than anything else. They have taken more from us than the large coal and gas companies did by cheating our forefathers out of their minerals, for that was just money. These writers have taken our pride and dignity and have disgraced us in the eyes of the outside world. When our children go into the cities for work, or are drafted into the army, they are forced to deny their heritage change their way of talking, and pretend to be someone else, or be made to feel ashamed, when they really have something to be proud of.”

Slone is best remembered for her sense of pride in being Appalachian, for loving her family, maintaining mountain traditions and translating the beauty of her heritage and region through her crafts, and her six books. What My Heart Wants to Tell includes many bits of mountain lore and ceremony, including when to plow, plant and have babies. Tales of haunts, quilt making, moonshining, and “molassie stir offs” come to life in every page. One can not help but being lured into a powerful familiarity, feeling that they know Slone personally, as she shares personal histories of her family and continually tells of her respect for her home, and her neighbors on Caney Creek. You can feel the love in every word she writes to her grandchildren, so they can know the real truth about their heritage and mountain ways that will soon be forgotten. Her words are as much a call to arms for preservation as they are a written reflection of her time and place on earth. The message belongs to all her people, not just those connected to her by blood, but for all who are bound by those same cultural connections, in which she has such an amazing way of portraying. These words are for those who wish to take interest, so they too can know, love and cherish the culture and traditions.

I encourage everyone who reads this piece to find a copy of one of Ms. Slone’s works and give it a read. I have a personal fondness for her message. I am well aware that the time and place Verna Mae reflects upon is no longer in existence. The world has become a very small place within the last twenty years, and Appalachia is a modern region. I feel close to the central message of Appalachian preservation, but I sometimes believe that this idea is misunderstood, at least to the extent in which I promote it. Putting our feet in the ground and resisting modernization is not in the best interest of this area. In fact, we need to sturdy ourselves and push forward into the future. The strong will, character and general constitution of the regional people was forged by times gone by, but I do not suggest we revert to the socioeconomic climate. The message is to show outsiders, and local people who have forgotten, that what our ancestors built with the little opportunity they possessed was remarkable. Appalachian people were never presented with lucrative opportunity and squandered it. Instead, they were a people which survived and found happiness, despite the possibility of prosperity. The purpose is to show that it is what is on the inside that truly counts.

I do not write my own words in the hopes that you as the reader will simply just think back on what an amazing heritage we used to have. The same ideas, integrity and character that made our heritage great are still present. I believe that a great majority of it has been temporarily forgotten or dampened by outside forces and circumstances, but I believe it is still here. If anything I write, or in this case point you toward the words of another, can spark a value for those traits, I am happy.  The opportunities we have today are vastly greater than those of our ancestors. I believe that a revival of the traits they needed to survive, coupled with the opportunity we have today would allow for this area to prosper. The burden is no longer our predecessors’, but ours.

God knew that it would take brave and sturdy people to survive in these beautiful but rugged hills. So he sent us HIS very strongest men and women, people who could enjoy life and search out the few pleasures that were contained in a life of hard work. They were an enduring people, who did not whimper and complain because their burdens were heavy. They loved each other and lived closer to God and nature than any folks anywhere. So with God’s help, I hope my brain can say to my hands what my heart wants to tell.”

Verna Mae Slone, 1978

 

Clink the link below to purchase What My Heart Wants to Tell by Verna Mae Slone

The Ballad, Life, Times & Homestead of Old Joe Clark. Sexton’s Creek, Clay County KY |The Bourbon Soaked Mom|

The Ballad of Old Joe Clark is a famous mountain song, sung mostly during WWI, and later wars by Kentucky soldiers. The ballad itself is about a rough and shiftless mountaineer, Joseph Clark, born and bred in the Sexton’s Creek area of Clay County, whose homestead still stands today. He is an elusive, and controversial character, who was as mysterious, as he was wild. An outlaw, a moonshiner, womanizer, pioneer on the government controlled whiskey frontier, as well as a proud farmer, and solider.

Joe Clark was born September 18, 1839, to a farmer whose roots in Clay County ran deep. He was married in 1857, to Elizabeth Sandlin, who was then only fifteen years old.

At the age of 22, with three kids and a wife to support, Civil War broke out in the United States, and Clark was among the first to enlist. He served in Colonel TT Gerarrd’s 7th Kentucky Infantry and fought at the Battle of Wildcat, the first major battle in Kentucky in the fall of 1861. Clark, however, did not last long in the army, after becoming ill he was honorably discharged in 1862 and returned to Sexton’s Creek to resume his life as a farmer.

In 1868, he purchased 700 of acres of land from his father, believed to of been in the Clark family for generations. He established a two story log cabin, and a store on the grounds. It was during the period of his life, that Clark began to earn a bad reputation. His wife left him, and he was known to keep company with many different nefarious characters, and also he lived with several different women, producing many children.

Clark, in his day, ran one of the first government supervised stills, where he peddled brandy, moonshine and whiskey. According to oral accounts passed down, Clark would load up an ox cart with whiskey and take it to the round bottoms to sell, with a Spencer rifle laid across his lap. He was, by all accounts, a wild character, losing an arm in a knife fight, and later repaying the favor by taking the arm of his neighbor.

As I said Joe was a bit of a wild man and his friends, taking note of his wild and crazy exploits started making rhymes out of them. There was a popular break down tune at the time that they chose to put those rhymes to and then was born “The Ballad of Old Joe Clark”. It is said at first Joe was amused with it at first but then his friends starting embellishing some of his exploits, or did they? He sure didn’t do anything to help them write better lyrics about him.

In 1886, Joe Clark was shot and killed on the back porch of his home. Legend has it, one of the women he lived with, planned with her boyfriend to kill Clark and claim he had bequeathed his homestead to her. After Clark was shot, two men from Clay County sought out the boyfriend and shot him, his debt came due.

Modern Day

I’m the Granddaughter of a late tobacco farmer named Edward Grubb, from Sexton’s Creek Kentucky. My Dad’s family farm is only a mile away from the Clark homestead, and I recall driving past the two story cabin many times in my life.

Clay county has always held a certain fascination for me, due in part to the many weekends I frequented the area. It is rumored, (although I’ve never been able to prove) that my family (Hunters or Grubb, I can’t remember which) are the descendents of Clark himself, probably in part because Old Joe had a gaggle of kids, and lived with many, many different women.

I first remember driving by the magnificent two story cabin when I was very young.This was before the Weavers restored the place, and it was eerie, untouched, and in true 1800’s form. I was always begging my Dad to take me down to the bottom so I could just peek inside the windows. From the looks of the homestead, it hadn’t been touched for many, many years. The well was still in the front yard, the front porch, though dilapidated had a certain scary vibe, and I was DYING to meet a ghost at the front door.

When I was around 15, myself and a bunch of friends were at the farm, took off on four wheelers and crept down to the old place, which then, was basically like it was when Joe died. We looked in the windows and tried to get into the crawlspace, only to be met with a few gun shots and someone telling us to get the hell off his property. I understand it, we were trespassing, but ever since, I’ve been determined to somehow go inside.

I got my wish, after the Weaver family completely restored the cabin, the owner took my Dad and myself inside for the grand tour around 5 or 6 years ago.Everything was true to era. Corn stalk mattresses, 19th century tools, and cookware. Jugs of moonshine. Home made decorations. I’m told the cabin isn’t up for viewing all the time, but if you let the family know, they are more than happy to take folks inside. It was truly beautiful, and such an asset to the Sexton’s Creek area and to Clay county itself, and a great testament to such a unique character, and time in Appalachian history.

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Present day restoration of the Clark homestead.

Clark is rumored to be buried in the Clark cemetery, overlooking the 700 acres of land that was in the Clark family for generations.

Ballad of OLD JOE CLARK

Old Joe Clark, the preacher’s son
Preached all over the plain
The only text he ever knew
Was high low jack and the game

Chorus:

Old Joe Clark had a yellow cat
She would neither sing nor pray
Stuck her head in a buttermilk jar
And washed her sins away

Chorus:

Old Joe Clark had a house
Fifteen stories high
And every story in that house
Was filled with chicken pie

Chorus:

I went down to Old Joe’s house
He invited me to supper
I stumped my toe on the table leg
And stove my nose in the butter
Chorus:

Wished I had a sweetheart
Put her on the shelf
And every time she’d smile at me
I’d get up there myself

Chorus:

Old Joe Clark’s no friend of mine
Treats me like a pup;
Kicks my houn’ dog under the porch
An’ drinks my booze all up.

Chorus:

Old Joe Clark came to my house
Scared my little pup
Broke up all my chairs and stuff
And drunk my liquor up

Chorus:

Old Joe Clark he had a mule
His name was Morgan Brown
And every tooth in that mule’s head
Was sixteen inches round

Chorus:

Old Joe Clark was married
His wife was ten feet tall
And when her head was in the bed
Her feet were in the hall

Chorus:

I went down to Old Joe Clark’s
Old Joe wasn’t home
I ate all Joe’s meat and bread
And I gave his dog a bone

Chorus:

I went down to see my gal
She met me at the door
Shoes and stockings in her hand
And her bare feet on the floor

Chorus:

Raccoon has a bushy tail
‘Possum’s tail is bare
Rabbit has no tail at all
‘Cept a bunch of hair

Chorus:

Sixteen horses in my team
The leaders they are blind
And every time the sun goes down
There’s a pretty girl on my mind

Chorus:

Eighteen miles of mountain road
And fifteen miles of sand
If ever travel this road again
I’ll be a married man

Chorus:

Well, I wouldn’t marry that old maid,
I’ll tell you the reason why,
Her neck’s so long and stringy, boys,
I fear she’d never die.

Chorus:

And I wouldn’t marry an old school-teacher,
Tell you the reason why,
She blows her nose in old corn bread,
And calls it pumpkin pie.

There is more than one chorus. Choose the one you like or use ‘em all.

Chorus: Fare thee well, Old Joe Clark
Fare the well I say.
He’d foller me a thousand miles
Just to hear my fiddle play. (banjo, guitar, harmonica, whatever)

Fare thee well, Old Joe Clark
Goodbye, Betsy Brown
Fare thee well, Old Joe Clark
I’m goin’ to leave this town

Round and round, Old Joe Clark
Round and round I say.
Round and Round Old Joe Clark
I’m a goin’ away.

For more information about Clay County attractions and tourism visit:

http://claycountykentucky.org/

Old Appalachian Superstitions |The Bourbon Soaked Mom|

Early life in Appalachia was both difficult and wrought with many perils. Some of these perils were very real. Mountainous, vapid land. Wildlife. Neighboring mountaineers. However, some perils known to the early Appalachian settlers were of their own creation, but none the less as real and dangerous to them as the black bear or any band of looters.

Much of life on the frontier in those days had superstitious overtones, and countless commonplace occurrences were carefully studied for meaning.The new mountaineer had brought with him from the Old World, many superstitions, and these were augmented by additions from Africa, on the plantations, and stone age legends acquired from squaw mothers and wives of the Native American tribes who had long settled the area.

In the stillness of the vast, and lonely Forrest, many of these legends were called upon to give explanations for the mysteries, and consolations for the miseries of living in the wild, untamed and formidable land that would become known as Appalachia….

Witchcraft

Witchcraft was a well know and much believed superstition. Many believed that any misfortunes they suffered would be at the hands of a spell, cast by a real life witch. The four legged, straight backed, cane bottomed chair was said to have a singular role in a Witch’s nefarious activity.

It is said that the Witch would only have to tilt the chair on one leg, and spin around to make the “devil come a’ runnin.”

The Mirror

The saying, seven years of bad luck was one such legend originating from Appalachian folk tales. The mirror possessed great meaning and potency. Mirrors were arranged, in those days, in room so that the person in bed could not see their own reflection.

It was thought that to see yourself in the mirror before rising would be to risk terrible luck and ill will until the next winter’s snowfall.

The Owl

The owl was thought to be in service of the devil, and was looked upon as an evil symbol. Many people thought he was a spy for the evil one.

Many people would shoot owls, but the general consensus on them seemed to be it was best not to disturb or offend them. If he flew off to the left of a cabin door, bad luck was in store. If the owl flew directly over the house, death was coming soon to one of it’s occupants. If the owl flew to the right, the house was spared and a run of good luck was sure to come.

Spider Webs

Spider webs were thought to be spun by creatures friendly to the righteous. If someone woke up to spiderweb across their door, it was a sign that one should not cross the threshold.

Babies Born on Certain Days

It is said that this legend is a mix of old world tales, and native American musings, but children born on specific dates were willed to have certain powers. Children born on the birthdays of their father’s, or on Jan 6 (old Christmas) were rumored to be able to speak with animals.

Occult Personalities & Presences

The early mountaineer believed in spirits, ghosts and banshees, and their associations with Native American tribes only strengthened their beliefs. These ghosts roamed forest trails, knocked on cabin doors at night, and wandered down country roads, the living dead looking only to torment the living.

Many frontiersman encountered these spirits, and countless “hainted” places can still be pointed out today by their descendants.

The Devil

The devil was thought to be of real person, able to take form and wander the valleys and hill, with eyes red as coals and large as saucers. He could be heard at night, passing by the door of a cabin, accompanied by the blood curdling clank of chains which he carried for his victims…

The Moon

The moon has always been believed, not just in Appalachia but many parts of the world, to have supernatural influence over the lives of humans. The phases of the moon were carefully noted in Appalachia, and crops were to be planted accordingly, babies were expected during certain times, and weather was predicted by their signs.

Gifted Persons

Cult followings were common for people who were supposedly gifted with supernatural powers. Sometimes a 7th son was said to be able to heal sick people. A woman who had seven children was able to cure the thrash by blowing into someone’s mouth. A gifted person was likely said to be able to banish evil spirits by exiling them into a plant, animal, or seed.

Folk Medicine

Since Doctors and medicine were not yet introduced to the Appalachians, the people relied on a number of quick fixes, Indian legends, and witch doctoring to cure them of any maladies.

A buckeye carried in the pocket of those with rheumatism would cure them of aches.

If a person had a painful sore which refused to heal, they were to squeeze a drop of their blood onto a bean.

It was believed that steel could ward off pain, and when a woman gave birth, her husband would place an ac under the bed to “cut the pain in two” .

Birthmarks could be cured, and banished by rubbing them with the cold dead hands….of a corpse.

Other Sayings that are SCARY AS HELL

Wind Chimes summon the dead

A ghost will beat on the walls of house when someone inside is about to pass.

A bird hitting your window, or flying in your house is a sure fire sign you are about to die.

If you walk on someone’s grave, their ghost will haunt you.

If you let birds gather your hair for their nest, you’ll soon lose your mind.

If you rock an empty cradle, you will lose your baby.

If your ears are ringing, you’re hearing the death bell and someone you love is dying.

If rain falls into an open grave, the deceased is bound for hell.

 

So, the next time you see an owl, take care to note his flight pattern. If someone knocks on your door, pray it isn’t a ghost, and run the other way if a bird flies into your house. I hope you all enjoyed these sayings, and legends as much and I enjoyed researching them.

Note: Some excerpts of this blog were taken from Harry M. Caudill’s book “Night Comes to the Cumberlands”.

Other sources include the American Book of Folklore, and of course, here-say from my very superstitious Grandparents.

 

 

TBSM Summer “Appalachian” Reading List |The Bourbon Soaked Mom|

This summer, I have really gotten into Appalachian history, as well as Appalachian based authors. I’ve managed to put a list together of just a few of my favorite “Appalchia” based works.

Two of these are children’s books by one of my favorite authors, Cynthia Rylant. They are essential to the boys’ library, and both are two of their favorite bedtime reads, especially When I was Young in the Mountains….

Be sure to browse through these! You may click on the image, which is already linked to Amazon to purchase any you are interested in reading on the Kindle, or to actually purchase the books themselves!

Happy Reading!

1: Weed Monkey by Lisa Proulx

This book is not for the faint of heart. This memoir explores prostitution, discrimination, hardships, poverty and the coal camps of West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky during the Great Depression. Be sure to buy tissues, it’s a tearjerker.

2:Blood Feud by Lisa Alther

Lisa Alther tells the tale with surprising humor and insight into one of the most famous and bloodiest inter family wars in history. Not to mention, the love story between Johnse Hatfield and Roseanne McCoy is straight from a Shakespearean novel.

3: Night Comes to the Cumberlands by Harry M. Caudill

Harry M. Caudill examines the history, stereotypes and future of coal country in this dramatic, and at times, painful novel. I enjoyed reading it, but beware, Caudill isn’t much for coal.

4: When I was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant

One of my favorite children’s books. Rylant writes about her favorite experiences growing up in Appalchia, including swimming in the swimming hole, eating fried okra, and watching baptisms at the one room school/church house.

5: The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant

Rylant recalls hilarious and heartwarming remembrances of her relatives coming to stay the summer from Virginia. So much hugging, and breathing, and cooking.

6: Appalachia: A History by John Alexander Williams

A detailed history of Appalachian land and it’s people.

7: South From Hell-Fer-Sartin: Kentucky Mountain Folk Tales by Leonard W. Roberts

Any lover of the vanishing art of tale telling will relish this rich treasury of folklore and humor. Full notes on sources, types, motifs, parallels, and possible origins of the tales make this collection valuable also for folklorists.

8: Images of America: Hazard Perry County by Martha Hall Quigley

Hazard and Bobby Davis Museum’s own Marth Quigley penns this book about Hazard and Perry County. This work traces the area’s development from an isolated mountain village to a center of Eastern Kentucky commerce and culture. Recorded in these images are the devastating floods that often threatened the community, as well as the building of the railroad that brought in everything from automobiles and telephones to Sears and Roebuck prefabricated homes. Aerial shots from the 1940s and 1950s are also included, and accompanying captions document the names and places familiar to oldtimers and intriguing to newcomers in Hazard, Perry County.

9: Kentucky’s Famous Feuds and Tragedies Authentic History of the World Renowned Vendettas of the Dark and Bloody Ground by Chas G. Muzember

This book presents accounts of four of Kentucky’s most infamous feuds, (1) The Hatfield-McCoy Feud, (2) The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta (also known as the Rowan County War), (3) The French-Eversole War, and (4) The Hargis-Marcum-Cockrill-Callahan Feud in Bloody Breathitt County.

10: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Sorely wounded and fatally disillusioned in the fighting at Petersburg, a Confederate soldier named Inman decides to walk back to his home in the Blue Ridge mountains to Ada, the woman he loves. His trek across the disintegrating South brings him into intimate and sometimes lethal converse with slaves and marauders, bounty hunters and witches, both helpful and malign.

11: Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

An epic love story, this book weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives amid the mountains and farms of southern Appalachia.

12: Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith

Ivy Rowe, Virginia mountain girl, then wife, mother, and finally “Mawmaw,” never strays far from her home-but the letters she writes take her across the country and over the ocean. Writing “to hold onto what’s passing,” she tells stories that are rich with the life of Appalachia in words that are colloquial, often misspelled, but always beautiful.

13: River of Earth by James Still

First published in 1940, James Still’s masterful novel has become a classic. It is the story, seen through the eyes of a boy, of three years in the life of his family and their kin. He sees his parents pulled between the meager farm with its sense of independence and the mining camp with its uncertain promise of material prosperity. In his world privation, violence, and death are part of everyday life, accepted and endured.

14: One Foot in Eden-Ron Rash

Will Alexander is the sheriff in a small town in southern Appalachia, and he knows that the local thug Holland Winchester has been murdered. The only thing is the sheriff can find neither the body nor someone to attest to the killing.

15: The Thread that Runs so True by Jesse Stuart

First published in 1949, Jesse Stuart’s now classic personal account of his twenty years of teaching in the mountain region of Kentucky has enchanted and inspired generations of students and teachers. I love this book, and I am always reminded of my Grandpa when I read it, who first began teaching in Pigeon Roost in a one room schoolhouse, and was an educator in Eastern Kentucky for 30 + years.

Eastern Kentucky ‘Blood Feuds’. |The Bourbon Soaked Mom|

Kentucky mountain blood feuds started around the end of the Civil War and raged on, basically unchecked until around 1915, when organized law and justice finally started to gain control in the rough and tumble mountains of Eastern Kentucky. These ferocious, and dreadful inter-family wars constitute a chapter of American history that is completely astounding, and surprisingly swept under the rug. Sure, we hear about the most famous and probably bloodiest feud, the Hatfield & McCoys (my step-Dad is actually a “McCoy” descended from Randolph’s clan) but few know that we had several bloody battles, and downright wars right here in Hazard, and bordering counties.

What was the cause of these ‘feuds’ and why were they so completely brutal, and out of control? A combination of lawlessness, large families with unpaid debts,and of course, the end of the Civil War, with Kentucky being caught in the cross hairs of all the fighting as a “neutral border state.”

The Civil War proved to be a ‘brother against brother’ war, as well as ‘neighbor against neighbor’. Families who had farmed, went to church together, and known one another their entire lives, all of sudden found themselves on opposing ends of the cause.

Hard times befell those whose husbands, brothers, uncles, and fathers were off at war, and they were trapped in a nation with two armies willing to steal, pilfer, ravage and leave destitute defenseless widows, and fatherless children.

Many lost their homes, their lands, and their lives. Many widows would carry harsh feelings and ill will towards those who they felt had wronged them during the war. Many children would grow up to be vengeful, full of prejudice and hatred, with only retaliation on their minds, and justifying the deaths of their fallen kinsmen. Whatever the reason,  Eastern Kentucky, during this period of time was a very wild and dangerous place, fill with rage, murder, thievery, and outlaws.

Harry M. Caudill described this era in the mountains of Kentucky best.

“After Appamatox it was as though mortal enemies had been locked in the same prison without taking away the deadly weapons they knew so well how to use.

Perhaps in no other region of the United States, except the Southern mountains were the lives and property of a great number of pro-Union civilians lost in the war. In Pennsylvania, Kansas, and a few other border areas the people were subjected to occasional Confederate forays, but those areas were comparatively rich and the losses were soon restored. But in the highlands of the modest and slowly built-up accumulations of three generations were destroyed, impoverishing virtually the entire population.

Thus, the curtain rose upon one of the most fantastic dramas in American history….the ferocious Kentucky mountain feuds. Their story has gone largely unchronicled, but in savagery and stark horror they dwarf the cattle wars of the Great Plains and, in contrast, make the vendettas of Sicily look like children’s parlor games.”

 

Statistics:

During the half-century above mentioned, the nineteen counties of the plateau achieved a maximum average population of 15,000.

Research indicates that one of the counties disclosed between 1856 and 1915, nearly one thousand murder indictments were returned by the local juries.

Nearly 20 homicides per year occurred and many killings must have taken place in which for one reason or another, indictments were never made.

Hazard KY

The French-Eversole War

The French Eversole War in Hazard, the county seat of Perry County, involved entire armies, and before long, the two sides were locked in mortal combat over control of the courthouse, and it’s records. The feud nearly caused a total suspension of law courts in the county.

The Eversole clan holed up inside the court house the structure, and the most numerous French were outside, firing at them from doors and windows of various other buildings.

The battle only ended with the arrival of a company of militiamen who forced the besiegers to flee.

Knott County Kentucky

The Terrible ‘Knott County’ War

This war lasted for many years and included the followers of Cap Hayes, and Clabe Jones. Hays was a cavalry Captain in the Confederate army, and Jones, a pro Union guerrilla leader. When these two strong willed men resumed the war in Knott county, most of the population enlisted in one faction or the other, and in a pitched battle at McPhereson Post Office (later Hindman) a half dozen men were shot to death.

When Cap Hayes was not fighting with Jones, he was warring with Bad John Wright, his neighbor in Letcher County. Wright was in the confederate army, captured in the war and imprisoned in Ohio. He escaped, and built his fortune by enlisting in the Union army for the bounties which were paid. With his roll of “Yankee” greenbacks, he returned to his rebel unit , where he remained until the war ended.

He and Hayes eventually ended to war by decimated the Jones clan.

“Bloody Breathitt”

Breathitt county shocked the entire world with how brutal those years were. It was not unheard of for a murder sentencing to  be interrupted by a band of belligerent outlaws, the gavel snatched form the Judge’s hand and the court room to be forcefully adjourned at the behest of gun whirling kinsfolk and wild mountain men. Many Judges were not only ran out of town, but shot, on the spot, along with attorneys, sheriffs and even jurors.

Clay County

White-Baker War

A war of attrition where countless men died in gun fights on the dusty streets of Manchester.

Hardly a county in Eastern Kentucky was without a war, or a feud. After the Civil War, a struggle for political power waged within each and every county. Union and rebel forces fought for ascendancy by seeking to capture local offices, and in no more than four counties were the discredited Confederates able to succeed.

Former Unionists, then, would elect their comrades to fill the court houses, and election posts and would set out to charge and convict many an old foe for every crime imaginable, including those committed during war time. Dockets would grow to be full, and even though charges were vast, many soon learned that to convict would also mean putting themselves at risk. Many a Judge and Juror alike subjected themselves to target in handing down indictments.

In a number of counties, the law sought to protect the lives of the sworn Judges by installing steel boxes by the judicial bench. Many were simply too afraid to convict and either resigned or left the area outright. Jurors would become terrified, and shy away from handing down an unfavorable decision, even if all evidence pointed directly at the defendant. Thus brewed an atmosphere of more and more prejudice and hatred than ever before, and blood feuds ran rampant among every county in Eastern Kentucky, and most of the southern highlands.

I touched on only a number of the notable feuds in Eastern Kentucky, with the exception of one. The Hatfield-McCoy feud.

It is interesting, to me, to look back and really try to understand and analyze the reason for these things that happened so many years ago. When you think of Kentucky during the Civil War, you think mostly of it being a “border” state, but do we really ever stop and think what that really meant for the people who lived here during that tumultuous time? Picking a side. Shouldering a cause. Brother to brother combat, the loss of life and land, and frustration with poverty, destitution and lawlessness were all contributing factors brought on by the outcome and the Civil War, and geographical location itself.

Sometimes an enemy does not need to belong to army, or carry a bayonet. Sometimes the greatest enemy lives right next door.