Friday, June 5

The day seemed a week long

1896 ... My Papa, the Rev. E. O. Guerrant, promised to take me with him the next time he went up into the mountains to preach. We started on the 10th of July 1896, and at Lexington took the Kentucky Union Railroad for the mountains; we went one hundred miles to Jackson, in Breathitt County. The road went up the Red River, where the big cliffs stand up on both sides of the road, hundreds of feet high. Many of the mountains have rocks on top like domes, bigger than a church; they are grand. The river was lined with beautiful flowers of ivy and laurel.

I saw some men cutting oats with a big scythe, with fingers on it; Papa told me they were cradling. One big tree was growing on top of a big rock. About six in the evening, we reached Jackson, on the North Fork of the Kentucky River. It is a very nice town and we have a church and a college there ... a few years ago we had none.

On Wednesday morning we started for the mountains in Perry County. Mr. Charles Little, Papa’s friend, went along with us, and took his niece, Miss Kate Patrick, to sing. He had two buggies; we rode in one, and they in the other. Papa brought a little Estey organ and we tied it on behind our buggy.

We went up the Kentucky River ten miles to the mouth of Troublesome Creek. Here we got into trouble enough. We had to get out and help the buggy down the rocky stair steps in the road. We went up Troublesome a mile, then up Lost Creek ten miles, then the man there said there were ten thousand saw logs in the creek. I never saw the like. The little houses all had martin boxes, but no yard or shade.

Down on Troublesome, we saw some ladies bare-footed, and one old lady had on shoes, but no stockings, and one had on a dress shorter than mine. I guess she must have been an old maid.

The mountains were very steep, but had corn growing on their sides nearly to the top. They can’t plow them up and down, but crossways. We saw coal mines all along the road, just sticking out of the mountains. Sometimes we rode over solid coal beds, and the biggest trees I ever saw grow along the creeks and rivers. They are awfully big. We saw a big boy, who had only a shirt on, and most of the men were barefooted.

When we went ten miles up Lost Creek, we turned up a creek called Ten Mile Creek. Well, it was awful. I thought we had passed bad roads, but we were just beginning them. Three men went along to cut trees and roll rocks out of the road. And such a road! Over big rocks and logs and steep banks and deep holes and around splash-dams. I thought our buggy would be smashed all to pieces. The horse pulled our trace in two, and a big rock broke a spoke out of the buggy. Sometimes we had to walk and climb. When we rode over the rocks, we couldn’t keep our hats on. Sometime I bumped into Papa, and sometimes he bumped me. It was too funny. Papa got a man to lead the horse around a big tree on the mountain while he and another man held the buggy. The horse got strangled and the man cried out, “Here’s a dead horse,” and scared me nearly to death. But they got the horses up and we went over a mountain to the Grapevine Creek. Here we had a time getting down the mountain, the path was so steep and sidelong . Mr. Little’s horse went over the mountainside and he jerked him back and he fell down, with the buggy on him. Papa and some men helped to take him out, then the buggy got away and ran down the mountain and broke the shaft. Then they all took our horse out and got the buggy down to the foot of the mountain by the hardest work.

Papa said that this was my vacation trip. I think it was. I never saw as much in my life. The day seemed a week long. The road down the Grapevine was no road at all. Mr. Little and Papa had to walk and lead and roll logs out of the way. It took us five hours to go seven miles. We came to the mouth of Grapevine about dark, twenty-seven miles by the road we came and forty by the river, above Jackson. Papa had a friend there named Dr. Wilson, but we could not get our buggies to his house, so we crossed the river and stayed at Mr. Tom Johnson’s. Papa and Mr. Little crossed the river and stayed at Dr. Wilson’s.

Mrs. Sawyers, our missionary, was there. Papa is preaching in the little school-house, on the bank of the river, and it is crowded at 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. Miss Kate Patrick and I play the little organ, the first one ever played in this county for worship. Emma Johnson has the only one in the county. The people are very clever and attentive, and most of them walk to church. Almost twenty-five have joined, and Mr. Johnson was the first one, and an old man nearly seventy, and a real pretty girl named Dora Duff. Mr. Johnson is the leading man in the county, and lives in the only brick house.

We went swimming in the river one evening; it was about a foot deep, and we had lots of fun. It is cool and quiet in the mountains. Sunday we are going to take dinner to church and have an all-day meeting. Next week we are going to Hazard, the only town in Perry County. They say the road up Campbell Creek is worse than Ten Mile and Grapevine. If it is, I pity it. But I guess we will go it. Papa is going to preach on Big Creek next week. When you get tired and want a vacation, come to Grapevine. The people will be glad to see you. ...1896

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad you have included these episodes in your Blog. I have read excerpts from her notes but reading them here I caught a little more than I did reading them from a book/magazine. When I read it in the Perry County History, it was in letter form to her sister and I, to tell you the truth, "sped red" them. She had no idea what a great service she did noting her every step on her "vacation" into the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Especially true, at a time when the mountains were still isolated and people and houses were few and far between. I, for one, appreciate what she has done and here I am many, many years later making the journey with her. Her graphic descriptions almost put you right on the spot. I cannot thank her in person for taking the time to note her journey, but she knew what she was doing and that somewhere in time, her notes would be a history lesson to many.