Hopkins County Folk Lore
By Contributing Editor, Carolyn Buntin
My great grand father Thomas M. BUNTIN was born in Hopkins CO. KY in the year 1856. He lived on a farm near Hanson, KY. The community was called Shakerag and there Thomas lived with his mother Elizabeth (Betsy) Groves Buntin and his father, William Henderson Buntin. I would imagine that he had a childhood like most other children born to proud but poor parents. In my mindís eye I can see him playing with his brothers and sisters, Mary Jane, Julia Ann, Catherine Virginia, Sarah Frances, Martha E, James S, America Caroline (Jennie), William Bradley and Manley Parrish. I can also imagine the grief they all experienced when James died at 12 years of age and Brother John at a young age too.
There would have been great gaiety in their house too for his father was known as Uncle Billy Buntin, the Barefoot Surveyor and the Barefoot Fiddler. I like to think that their house was filled with the lively tunes of his fatherís fiddle and the clapping hands of his brothers and sisters.
The following story was told to me by a cousin, handed down from our great grandfather, Thomas M. Buntin himself.
He was about 6 or 7 years old at the time. In those days little boys wore dresses just as the girls in the family did until they reached a certain age. Thomas had yet to be attired in the much-coveted pants that his older brother James wore. He had been begging for a pair of "britchesí for a long time now and Thomas thought the day would never come when he could be a "real" boy. He longed for them with all his heart.
In the year 1863, the family was preparing to partake of Sunday dinner at nearby neighborís home. All the food was packed and the many children were getting into their Sunday best clothing. Thatís when Thomas spied a little pair of long pants, pressed neatly and folded just so, hanging on the back of the door. "Yes, the pants are for you," his mother said and the entire family had just been waiting for him to find them!
Amid the laughter and merriment, his mother suddenly held up her hand for silence. There were horses coming at a slow walk. As she looked out the door she could see they were Yankee Soldiers. The children scurried like mice and any item of small value was grabbed and hidden immediately in pre-determined places. Everyone knew his or her job and what they were responsible for. Items were hidden away in a matter of minutes. When the Yanks came knocking on the door, the family presented a picture of serenity, innocently setting Sunday dinner on the table.
The Yanks searched high and low for anything of merit to aid them in their travels. They found nothing of value and were in the midst of leaving the home and grounds. The family heaved sighs of relief. Just at that moment the last soldier leaving the house spied the little pair of pants hanging neatly on the door. He grabbed the pants, slung them over his shoulder while calling back to the mother of the house, "We need these for bandages"!
The only thing the Yankees took that day was Thomasís first pair of pants. It was a long time before he ever got another pair made for him. He took to wearing his brotherís hand me downs before he ever got the thrill of wearing a new pair of his own.
We wonder today if the Yanks would have even stopped by the Buntin place at all, much less taken those little pants if they had known that the father of the household, in a very short time, would be serving in CO I, KY Vol. Cavalry for the Union!
For more stories of Hopkins County Lore, go to http://www.rootsweb.com/~kyhopkin/lore.
Nancy Trice, © 2000