actually was not a resident of the coal camp but both my grandparents and
were. I was imprinted
with Bon stories all
my life, attended the Bon Jellico School, and attended the Bon Jellico reunions
from about the age of five.
My grandparents James C. (Jim-Pop) and Elizabeth (Lizzie-Mom) Pemberton
moved to Bon in 1918 with four of their five children (Willie, Leslie (Red, my
Dessie, and Martin). Their last daughter, Velma, was born at Bon. Willie died
in 1925 from ruptured appendix.
Jack Taylor hired Jim as barn foreman. Jim was responsible for
the care of the horses and mules owned by the mine. Two white horses were used
wagon that Jim drove to deliver goods throughout the coal camp and to pick up
freight from Williamsburg. Jim had the white horses so well trained that he would
hook them to the wagon each morning and then he would walk over to the Commissary.
The horses (George and Tom) would leave the barn, go up the hill, turn the wagon,
back up bumping the Commissary porch, stop and wait for Jim. Jim also did some
wood working, shoe repair, forging of metal items, and shoeing of the animals.
We still have a kitchen dish cabinet made by Pop, some of his carpenter, cobbler,
ferrier tools, and part of his hand forge. One of Wayne, my oldest brother’s,
favorite memories of his Bon days was getting to help turn the hand forge at
about the age of five. Jim would repair shoes and put them back on the owner’s
porch early of a morning, knowing they could not afford to pay him for the repair.
Some people were able to pay but it did not matter to Jim if he got paid or not.
He said that everyone needed shoes.
Pemberton worked as a housekeeper and cook for Dr. Stonecipher before
he was married. Liz continued to help Dr. Stonecipher with delivering babies.
They said when a mother was ready to deliver, someone went for the Dr. and
someone went for Liz. Liz continued cooking and sending food to people
that were ill
or in need. Liz was very superstitious. One of my favorite stories of my grandparents
was an incident that occurred when Liz was churning butter. A lady came and
wanted buttermilk, but Liz told her she had no buttermilk because she
was making butter
to sell. Liz churned and churned but could not get butter to form. The lady
got her buttermilk. Liz insisted to Jim that the lady put a jinx on her
took a silver dime, cleaned it, and placed it in the bottom of Liz’s
churn and the jinx was over. From then on, Liz had butter to sell.
Taylor, my mother, was teaching at Bon when she met Leslie (Red) Pemberton,
my dad. They had been married 62-years when Mother
died in 1997. One of Dad’s
favorite stories was that he had the name of being one of Bon’s ‘bad
boys’ and should have never been able to date, let along marry, the
school marm. They had five children; three (Peggy, Wayne, and Bruce) were
born at Bon.
boy’ name came from his, John Stout’s, and
Paul Brown’s, and other young men’s adventures that included
raiding chicken houses, corn patches and watermelon patches and drinking
boys knew a couple that lived way up a hollow that would fry the chickens,
cook the corn, help eat the melons and drink the moonshine. Dad said they
what they could eat. Pop (Jim) Pemberton said that when they raided his
chickens, he did not dare shoot being afraid of hitting his own son.
when Peggy was two or three years old, she wondered off. The women started
hunting and calling for her. After searching for 45 minutes or
so, they were
sure Peggy was lost. The whistle sounded and all the miners left the
mines to help search. Dad said when he got home, Mother, Ma Stout,
were panicking and in tears. Dad started searching around the side of
the house. Knowing Peggy would repeat anything you asked her
to, Dad said “Peggy,
say ‘What’”. From Mother’s flower garden a little
voice immediately said, “What”. Peggy was found. What a caring
community to call the miners from the mine to help search for a lost
child: That was Bon!
Charles Bruce Pemberton was joining the Air Force, he needed his birth
certificate. Dr. Stonecipher filed birth certificates for babies
Bon, and Bruce’s
certificate came back with the name, “Glen Ray Pemberton.” We
always wondered if a Glen Ray had received a birth certificate in he
name of Charles
my sister Cheryl, and I (Gail) attended Bon School after Red and Grace
moved back to Whitley County from Michigan. We lived on
farm then owned by Phyllis and Wyatt Wood. We have great memories
of the little school
on the hill and life on the farm.
Jellico reunions were called ‘homecomings’ because everyone
seemed to feel that they were coming home. It did not matter if you were
a true resident,
a descendent, or just a family friend, you still had the feeling
of coming home. Remembering the hugs, gospel singing, the stories, the
food, and laughter are
some of the great memories I will always cherish.”
(By Velma Pemberton Papineau Decker)
was my idol. He quit school before graduating but he got a great education
things that he enjoyed. He went to Cincinnati,
Ohio and worked in a Kroger grocery store. I’m sure he worked different
places but I only remember Kroger’s. He had this beautiful girlfriend,
Katherine Brandon. He brought home pictures of her. I think her father was
well off and didn’t want her to be so serious about anyone. Anyway,
Red lived the life. He hopped freight trains, lived with hobos, but even
living that life style, he was still a dude. He was always well dressed and
very particular about his hygiene. These were days of prohibition. Red and
his buddies, especially John Stout and Paul Brown dressed like they did on
was away from home a year or two. When he came home, I followed him around
like a puppy dog. I thought everything he did was ‘coolie-coolie’ (shortened
to ‘cool’ now). I remember on washday he would cook sometimes.
He made the best baked beans that I think Bushes stole his recipe. On top of
beans he had slices of side pork.
came home a few times a little tipsy. Mom and Dad would ignore him but
I loved it when he was feeling good. He was always happy
when he was drinking.
I remember one time he wanted me to play the phonograph. My girlfriend, Louise
Stout, and I were dancing around and singing along with the music. He started
laughing hard and cheering us on. When the music stopped, he gave us each
There were times after that that I wished Red would come home tipsy.
time he came home” feeling no pain” and had to lie down on
the bed. He was worried about a hot date that he had that night. This was
in the afternoon. He said, “Velma, I have to shave.” And
I said, “I
can shave you.” I was probably seven years old at the time. I got
a basin of warm water and carried it to his bedroom; then I got his Gillette
the mug with the lather brush, and, of course, the styptic pencil. I was
shaving his face while he was sleeping. I had the blade in but it was loose
and I cut
a chunk by his Adams apple. The styptic pencil didn’t work. Good
thing Mom came along.”
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