Observations of God's Timing In The Kentucky Mountains by Ruth Huston 
 

 Yesterday, while going through the books on my shelf, I was leafing through Observations of God's Timing (In the Kentucky Mountains) by Ruth Huston.
I don't know how long I have had this book; nor remember where I got it. Before deciding which stack to put it into, I started leafing through the book
to make sure whether I wanted to get rid of it or not. Needless to say, after seeing a couple entries that caught my eye, I spent the next couple hours
reading the entire book!! I wanted to share with you just a few things from the book that might interest you. While the book focused more on Leslie County,
there were several mentions of incidents / individuals in and around Breathitt County.

Chapter III; page 22, a couple paragraphs read:

As there was no high school at that time in Hyden, she was sent to Pennsylvania to the home of the Rev and Mrs John Buyers to attend school. Her mother
kept sheep and would card and spin the wool to send to Martha, who dyed it and knitted her own sweaters to wear to school in the country.
The only alternative would have been attending normal school at Buckhorn to become a teacher, but the contact with the Christian nurse made her want to go
into nurses training. The Buyers helped her get into nurses' training after she graduated from high school and she completed her course with the purpose of
doing public health work to help her own people in Kentucky. The kindness of the missionary nurse, the fun of doing little things around the
Trachoma Hospital to help, and the interest of Christian friends directed the course of her life.

When we visited Miss Buyers in October 1923, Martha seemed pleased to escort us around. My first introduction to Owl's Nest Creek, where for
twenty years I had a Sunday School, was the trip on which we were taken to Wooton to spend the night with Miss McCord at the Presbyterian community
house six miles over the mountain from Hyden. The next day we rode back another way over a very rough trail and down Owl's Nest to the river.
All travel in those days was by foot, mule or horseback. or by jolt wagon, a springless farm wagon drawn by mules.

The above paragraph mentions Miss McCord. If I am not mistaken, Miss McCord is mentioned in some Owsley County notes as being over at
Faith Hill and the Lucky Fork area for a time.

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Chapter IV; page 24, 1st and 3rd paragraph read:

The stories I have been told of early church life in the Leslie County are interesting. There were very few organized groups and no Sunday Schools.
People here and yonder had a love for the Lord, but met only occasionally at "Memorial Services' or 'Graveyard Meetings.' Preachers were not always
available when someone died; there were no undertakers and the burial had to be within twenty-four hours. During August and September, when the
hard work of summer was over and the weather was usually dry, the people would come from miles around with their basket lunches to spend the day
together, remembering their departed loved ones and visiting with one another.

One friend, Mrs Muncy, has told me of a little meeting house at the mouth of Bad Creek where she attended as a child. In those days the
Primitive Baptist were the important denomination. Meetings would be held in the last few days of May or early June, at the time the berries on the
'Service' trees became red: a sign of settled weather for two or three days, as the meetings were often held on the river bank or under the shade of
a big tree. We have 'little winters' or cool spells in the spring before summer comes along. The first little winter is 'service,' then we have 'redbud',
'dogwood' and 'blackberry.' When the blooms begin to fall off the trees we can usually count on a cool spell. I learned from my neighbor,
Mrs John Lewis, how 'Service Winter' got its name. The tree is the first to put out a white, fuzzy bloom and is called service
(often pronounced 'sarvis') because of the services held when the red berry appears to announce the time for the protracted meeting.
People would sometimes come from sixty miles away, riding horseback double, and there would be as many as twenty-five or thirty horses.
The visitors would be housed in neighbors' homes for there were no hotels. Women cooked for days ahead to have enough food on hand.

A few years ago, while living in Breathitt, I had asked a friend about several of the burial traditions of the time. He had explained the above to me.
I thought it was so interesting how this all came about.

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Chapter VI; page 37, 3rd and 4th paragraph read:

Around the year 1912 a student at Princeton Seminary, Mr William Buyers, was interested in going to some challenging place to serve the Lord.
The Presbyterian Academy housing church and school had burned down, having the group of members without a pastor. One Sunday morning,
while Mr Buyers worshipped in the Central Presbyterian Church in New York City, there was a notice in the church bulletin telling of the burning
of the Academy at Hyden and the need for some qualified person to help rebuild the work. That appealed to him, so he made the trip to
Hyden, difficult as it was, and received such a welcome from the Eversoles and others that he felt led to accept the challenge. On the way to
Hyden from the railroad he had stopped at Buckhorn, where Mr Harvey Murdoch loaned him his horse for the twenty-five mile ride. Mr Murdoch
was in charge of a splendid school and his encouragement and backing were a help in the new venture. It is very important to have the right
connection and the loyalty of workers who have won the respect and confidence of the mountain people.

Mr Murdoch was one of those who had proved himself to be a lover of God and of the people whom he was serving. Ministers, doctors,
school teachers, nurses, community workers, county officials, home makers and other worthwhile servants of God and of the people have
come from the splendid work done at Buckhorn. A former superintendent of the Leslie County schools and his wife, Mr and Mrs John D Begley,
were students at Buckhorn. Their two sons are now successful doctors and teachers of Sunday School classes in their communities, one in Harlan,
Kentucky,the other in Ft Worth, Texas. Another county superintendent, Mr Earl Keen, attended Buckhorn School. His father and uncles were
successful merchants, with ambition to give their children a Christian education. Many fo the present generation are school teachers, some are
merchants, nurses, musicians, and are active in the churches of their community. Given an opportunity, the good stock in these Scottish_Irish
Americans produces citizens who are worthy of their heritage.

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Another paragraph reads:

In response to the request of the Wooton people for a worker, Mr Buyers contacted Miss Mary Rose McCord, who came to live there and started
mission work with a Sunday school and a program to help the neighborhood in many different ways. The coming of Miss McCord gave the children
a chance for an education and opportunity to have contacts to help them to amount to something; otherwise, Mrs Farmer wondered what would
have happened to the children. They would probably have grown up to waste their lives and know nothing of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour.
Miss McCord felt it was necessary to help the people materially as well as spiritually, so the Wooton Fireside Industry came into being.
Baskets, brooms, woven mats, scarves and various articles were made in homes from wood, straw, wool and linen secured locally or
provided through Miss McCord. These articles could be marketed through church connections and provided a small cash income for those who
made them. The furniture in my dining room and bed room was made out of Leslie County black walnut. The logs had to be cut and seasoned
for some time before the furniture could be made with the equipment provided through gifts to Miss McCord for use by a man at Wooton who
earned a small livelihood by making this furniture. All of this work had to be supervised by Miss McCord and her helpers. Woven rugs were made
out of feed sacks, dyed and woven by the Wooton women on their looms. For years I had brown, blue or rose coffee sack rugs on my living room
floor, as they could be washed or thrown in a corner when we had a party for the young people.

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Page 53; another paragraph reads:

The best story I have been told of the naming of Thousandsticks goes as follows: two men were riding over the mountain to establish a new post office.
As they rode down toward the creek all they could see were straight, charred stumps of trees - the result of a forest fire. One man said to the other.
'It looks like a thousand sticks;' the other man replied, 'That's a good name for the post office.' The mountain, the branch, the post office,
the school, the church and our weekly newspaper all vear that name.

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Page 64 / 65; several paragraphs read:

It was during that summer, 1928, that my house was being built and there was so much rain in June the river stayed up, delaying the arrival of
building material. Windows, doors, flooring and sheet rock had to be brought in sixteen miles from Krypton by jolt wagon, through five fords,
and the wagons either could not get out to Krypton or return on time with their loads.

That was the summer Mrs Mary Breckinridge dedicated the hospital of the Frontier Nursing Service at Hyden, and brought Sir Leslie and Lady McKenzie
from Scotland for the event, as Sir Leslie was to be the main speaker. Mr Jonah Begley drove them into Hyden, through mud and water and over
rocky roads in a two-seated spring wagon or surrey. I remember sitting on the front steps of the dormitory with my friends, watching prominent
guests from Louisville, Lexington and other places, go by on horses and mules, spattered with mud, and looking relieved to find themselves at
the end of their journey for the day.

The Frontier Nursing Service has done a valuable work in meeting the physical needs of the people of this section. Many of the citizens of
Leslie County have cooperated by contributing land, gifts of money, labor and friendship, to show their appreciation of the ministry. In 1925,
when Mrs Breckinridge came to start the work, there were no qualified doctors in the county and only two nurses, Miss Nola Pease
(now Mrs Samuel Vandermeer) at Wooton and Miss Leona Pace at Hyden.

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Chapter X, page 70 / 71 / 72

Near the mouth of Owl's nest was the home of Mr and Mrs Will Sandlin where I had been entertained many times. Mr Sandlin was a Kentucky
hero from the first World War, having captured eight machine gun nests single handed. He had won the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Our first year in Hyden one of their children had died and Leona took us down to visit, to try to console the family. We went the next
day to the simple funeral service. It was the first time I had seen anyone buried in a homemade casket. None other was available. The
little box was covered with black cloth and the top was closed by pounding the nails into the wood. There were no flowers to be gotten;
nothing to soften the blow but the Lord and His Word. We climbed a steep hillside, across the creek, to the Roberts family graveyard to
bury the little girl, with a prayer and a hymn. I was so out of breath it was hard to get through a verse of 'In the Sweet By And By.'
From that time on the Roberts and Sandlins were our friends.

Further up the creek beyond the Tom Roberts live the Jesse Maggard family. Mr Maggard's mother was a Roberts and he remembers that
his grandfather once owned the land from the top of the mountain to the river, over five hundred acres, but sold it for fifty cents an acre.
Across from the house now is an enormous coal tipple, through which wealth untold has passed into other pockets than the Maggards.
Mrs Maggard is the daughter of Mr Bige Eversole, the fine Christian man mentioned earlier. When it seemed advisable to move the
Sunday school up the creek nearer to homes where there were a lot of smaller children, the Maggards offered their homes, which
sometimes bulged with as many as one hundred people for a Christmas program or other special events. Up the branch from the Maggards
lived the Ashers, cousins of Mr Maggard. His Aunt Martha Roberts had married Andy Asher and lived in a nice little cabin surrounded by
flowers in spring, summer and fall. She was a good cook and loved to cook dinner for the preacher and Sunday school teacher when we had
special preaching services on the creek. She loved the Lord and His Word, becoming a Christian late in life, and was a faithful attendant
at Sunday school, even when the weather was bad. The branch near her home would get up from heavy rains, but that did not stop
'Aunt Marthy,' who climbed around a steep hill in order to reach the Maggard home. She rounded up her grandchildren and did her best to
keep them in Sunday school.

Her husband, Andy, brought a 'poke' of six apples to me for a Christmas present one year. He had dug a hole and buried them in the ground
to keep them from rotting. His thought of wanting to give me something touched me greatly and I felt that was my best Christmas gift that year.

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Chapter XVIIL, page 138 / 139

A young couple, the Rev and Mrs Raymond Haddix, were making a change of ministry from the Hyden Presbyterian Church where he had served
for a few months, and when the need for high school visitation was presented, they were challenged and were sure that was God's work for them.

Raymond had been brought up in a Christian home and attended a Brethren Church in Breathitt County. He was saved at evangelistic services
sponsored by Mr Drushel who gave fifty years of his life in preaching and educational work here in the mountains. Then the Haddix family
moved to Perry County near Camp Nathaniel and knew of the ministry, but had no connection with it.

When the Haddix's first child came they found it too public and inconvenient to stay at the Homestead and the question arose as to whether
they should leave the work and find something else to do. Believing God wanted them to serve Him among their own mountain people, they were
thrilled when Mr Haddix, Sr, gave Raymond a building he could remodel into a home and now they are gradually getting it in good shape
largely by their own labor.

 
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