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Are There Bears In Adair County?
This article first appeared in issue 9, and was written by Ed Waggener.
Blue Ribbon Bear Board to get to bottom of bear business
Are there bears in Adair County?
What kind are they?
Could they be descendants of Haskin's Hobart Coomer Bear?
Are they a friendly sort of bear?
If not, what precautions should be taken with children, pets, small livestock, and tourists?
Should bears come under planning & zoning?
Et cetera. Et Cetera.
These and other questions have challenged Adair Countians with perplexing regularity now and for the recent past few years.
Stories abound of bear sightings, most from folks who know someone who saw a bear in Adair County or who know someone who knows someone who saw a bear.
In as much as the very future of the county could be at stake, Columbia! magazine, which goes where no man has gone before, has induced a group of men to get to the bottom of the issue. To be known as the Columbia! Blue Ribbon Bear Board, these undaunted panelists are working without pay, They labor only for the promise of a place in history and widespread personal fame. There will be no meetings.
Every Bear Board member has good credentials (or credential, as the case may be) for the job at hand.
Named thus far, are the following:
-STEVE YORK. Steve York deserves to be in the World Record Book of Guinesses for his feats in Bear Wrestling. He has defeated not one, but two wrestling bears, and almost whipped another one. "The man wouldn't let me wrestle the third bear," Mr. York recalls, and remembers its owner as saying. "You might hurt my little bear." Mr. York will have the Glens Fork Sector, plus northern Cumberland County.
-JOHNNY VAUGHN. Johnny Vaughn may have been born a couple of hundred years too late. He has actually killed two bears, and has pictures to prove it. He will be responsible for the Fishers' Ford Sector and the Fountain area below his office on the Square.
-PAT BELL. Mr. Bell is on the Bear Board by virtue of birth. Despite being a born-again Adair County natve, he was originally born in McCreary County (his credential), where, just as a matter of survival, bear spotting is innate. Mr. Bell will report on the Crestview Loop Sector.
-TOMMY GILES. Mr. Giles, a great-great-great grandson of the prototype for Janice Holt Giles' Hill Man (written under the pseudonym of John Garth), has long surveilled the Green River Wildlife Management Area owned by the Corps of Engineers and managed by the Kentucky Department of Wildlife Resources. Should they stock any bears in the WMA-and they ardently deny they have ever done so-Mr. Giles or one of his informants will surely learn of it.
Mr. Giles is well trained in the ways of native Americans and has one of the keenest eyes for sang in all of Adair County. Mr. Giles will report on sightings in the Long Hunters Subdivision, metropolitan Columbia, and everything on either side of Hwy 206 and north of Green River except whatever Bear Board Member Keith Livermore stakes off. There have been a number of reported sightings in this area.
-BILL BALLOU. Because of his extraordinary qualifications, this legendary lawman cum Circuit Court Clerk is the only Bear Board Member at Large. Mr. Ballou knows bears inside out. And he respects them. "I killed a bear at the head of Big Runnix (Renox to sissies) when I was young," he remembers. "It was me or him. If I had had my gun, I would have shot him. But I didn't. I picked up a big stick and slew him with one blow between the eyes. That bear still had flesh in his teeth. I don't know whether it was human or otherwise. But I do know this," he concluded, "if I hadn't have had that big stick with me, that bear would have et me." Mr. Ballou is an practicing disciple of the late Dr. Billy Neat, Adair County and the World's greatest Varmintologist.
-DR. STEVE AARON. Dr. Aaron, in real life the senior partner in Louisville's prestigious surgical practice of Aaron & Walker, P.S.C., is publisher of The American Mammoth Jackstock Journal, the Bible of the Jack & Jennet Industry. ($20 per 12 issues, published the way Harry Golden published The Carolina Israelite: Whenever the barrel gets filled with randomly typed articles, he publishes. Address: American Mammoth Jackstock Journal, Circulation Dept, , PO Box 38, Floyds Knobs, IN 47119. Mention the "I know Junior Walker discount" if you are a regular born or born again Adair County native.)
AMMJ by the way, is the only publication in the world with a balladeer listed on its masthead.
I can vouch that Dr. Aaron knows bears. It was way back in the 1900's he and I took a load of tobacco spears to Bristol, VA.
We left at 8:00 p.m., because there was no air conditioner on the car and it would be cooler at night. I remember that when we passed Cudjo's Cave, one of us rededicated our life to Hank Williams when the radio played I Saw the Light.
Not to digress-we are focusing on bears here-when we drove over the mountains into Virginia, there was stretch of road where we couldn't see a light anywhere. It was as black as an eightball. Still, we had to get out and stretch on that stretch of road up high on a mountain. Outside the car, I remember that I heard a noise that so frightened me I jumped head first back into the car. He must have heard the same thing, because he dived head-first into the front seat at the same time, and we crashed heads. When the concussions subsided, we realized that the frightening noise was an angry bear, It was the right action. At that moment in history we had the same desire as Bill Ballou had had-not to get et by that bear.
Dr. Aaron may report on Canadian bears migrating through Floyd County, Indiana toward Sparksville. Then, maybe not.
-REV. ELDON TRUBEE, formerly of this place. He was pastor of the Columbia-Union Presbyterian Church. While here he developed the concept of the Sincere Restaurant. Rev. Trubee now serves two churches in Holmes County, Ohio, and lives in Millersburg. It is a community much like Columbia, he says, with a large Amish population, and, yes, many reported Bear sightings. Rev. Trubee reports builderss are developing Holmes county. This means, he says, "They are cutting down all the trees and then naming the streets after them."
Rev. Trubee has returned on many occasions to Columbia, and while he does not believe it happened, he is not ready to swear that one of the Holmes County black bears didn't hitch a ride to Adair County and start a family here. Rev. Trubee has agreed to serve as Chaplain of the Bear Board.
- KEITH LIVERMORE is an outstanding citizen of Knifley, Knifley is growing. While the downtown business district is not as large as it was when Momma grew up there, more businesses are moving to Knifley and the economic indicators would certainly portend even greater days ahead than even in Knifley's heyday. Tucker's Grocery, in the Livermore Tower, is still the tallest building in Knifley. Mr. Livermore was chosen not only because he is a leader in commerce and matters of state, and not only to bring partisan balance to the Bear Board (Tommy Giles is a known Democrat), but also because he has lived in Idaho, and should know about much about all kinds of bears. Besides, we trust him to report only the absolute truth, which is all that will be tolerated in this undertaking.
-J.C. LASLEY. An honest Flat Woods farmer, Mr. Lasley knows the ways of fauna in Adair County, whether it is indigenous or turned loose wildlife. He has long contended with deer on his farm, and lately, he's been having trouble keeping seed corn in the ground. Wild turkeys eat it before it can sprout. Because of these troubles, Mr. Lasley is alert to the presence of unusual animals.
He says that he has no quarrel with bears and doesn't think they pose nearly so much of a problem with his agriculture as the turkeys. Mr. Lasley will cover the Flatwoods-South Columbia 1 & 2 Precincts Sector, which lies just north of the most fertile Bear Sighting Country, which will be handled by
-GARY COOMER! The Dean of the Bear Board, Mr. Coomer lives on Bennett Ridge. As we shall see in ensuing material (to ensue this issue or some other), Bennett Ridge is smack dab in the middle of Likely Black Bear Country. To the north lies the Dean Woods, where there have been Bear Sightings. To the East rises Meatskin Road, then Harvey and Sparks and Independent and Greenbrier Ridges; next, Dirigo, Hwy 704, rich in bear lore; then northern Cumberland County-and beyond, more Cumberland County. Thence to Clinton, through heavily forested Wayne County, and thence, eastward to McCreary County, the most westward confirmed black bear county in Kentucky. It is from McCreary County, many believe, that Adair County black bears probably came. That is, if they didn't come from Tennnesse, descend from Hobart Bear Coomer, or stow away in a station wagon coming from Holmes County, Ohio.
The bear question is, in the language of the late Dr. Neat, a real mind boggler. And in keeping with Dr. Neat's deep reverence for science and prudence in scientific endeavor, we would add a caveat he would have offered to any who might delve here: Those of common minds should, perhaps, not follow the Bear Board inquiry, as there may be ideas considered of such weight and magnitude that they could split the heads of ordinary persons as though they were ripe watermelons.
This story was posted on 1996-11-15 12:01:01
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