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This article first appeared in issue 10, and was written by Ed Waggener.
How General Veelie's life on the lam ended
Carlos Mann, Jamestown, was about nine years old when General Veelie's legendary career reached a climax with an inglorious steamboat and rail journey to Cincinnati. The story is true. Mr. Mann, now 91, told it to me on October 7, at his nephew's Country Inn Restaurant.
General Veelie was a mixed China-Poland hog owned by Mr. Cyrus Campbell, who was the landing master at Jackman's Landing above Creelsboro and Rock House Bottom.
General Veelie's namesake was Mexican General Pancho Villa. During the summer and fall, he ran the woods and ate mast. When that ran out, he would return home.
Mr. Campbell sold him to Columbia stock traders over the years. Mr. Mann doesn't remember who was first, but the list included Eugene Grissom, Les Bennett, George Hunn, George Gaddy, and George Barnes.
Every time General Veelie was sold he would do the same thing: He'd break loose from his new Adair County home and head for the Cumberland River. He'd either show up at Mr. Campbell's or in the woods and then come home to Mr. Campbell's when he got hungry.
Each time he would make the cycle-the woods, Mr. Campbell's, Columbia trader, back to the woods or Mr. Campbell's-he would get a lot bigger and meaner.
Mr. Mann does not remember, but he thinks that Mr. Campbell, an honorable man, would repay the Columbia traders each time General Veelie broke for home.
In his last year, General Veelie reach over 800 pounds. He had long tusks, and he terrorized the hunters in the woods around Creelsboro.
Mr. Campbell contacted Mr. Mann's father, Mr. E. Mann, and told him that if he deliver General Veelie to the dock at Creelsboro, he would split the payment they would receive in Cincinnati.
It took several men to capture General Veelie when he came home hungry from the woods. The men hobbled the General, tied his snout with baling wire, and sewed his eyelids closed.
Steamboats in those days usually had a crew of 12-15 men. They could carry four railcar loads of hogs, or 480 head. The steamboat would go to Burnside to the railhead where the load would be transferred and shipped to the packing house in Cincinnati.
When General Veelie got to the landing at Jackman Bottom, it took the entire crew of 15 men to load him, Mr. Mann recalls.
General Veelie fetched $80 in Cincinnati, and Mr. Cyrus Campbell split the money with Mr. E. Mann.
No historical markers in the Creelsboro celebrate the epic life of this porcine wonder. And, Mr. Mann says, he knows of no writing about him. Still, his saga has remained alive in the memory of the river bottom people, who know it's true: Carlos Mann is an eye witness.
His chronicler is also a wonder
If you haven't met Carlos Mann, you've missed one of the most fascinating story tellers in this area. Most remarkably, Mr. Mann doesn't just remember the riverboat days, when he worked on the steamboats, which came four and more a day to Jackman's Bottom.
He knows the river. When his great-nephew planned a trip to Clarksville, Tennessee, from Creelsboro, Mr. Mann told him, "I know every creek and inlet between here and Nashville." He does, and he knows the roads all over Kentucky and Tennessee. At present, he is in Veterans Hospital in Lexington.
This story was posted on 1996-12-14 12:01:01
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