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100 Years Ago: Walls built of this rock never fall

The Sisters Trabue: Unsung heroines of Lindsey Wilson. Rock from their quarry still undergird the L.R. McDonald Administration Building at 210 Lindsey Wilson ST, Columbia, KY.

By "Jim"

A classified ad which ran in a few editions of the News in January and February, 1910, read thus:
"Rock Quarry for Rent
Perfect for building rock. Thick or thin, level and flat. Walls built of this rock never fall. Apply to Misses Trabue."
The Misses Trabue -- sisters Mary, Lou, Tillie -- lived at Willow Glen farm on Greensburg Road, a mile and a half from Columbia proper, in the house constructed around 1838 by their father, William Trabue.

While Misses Mary and Lou were somewhat retiring ladies, Miss Tillie was quite well known in Columbia, as she taught several years at the Lindsey Wilson Training School beginning in early 1905. The January 26, 1905 News showered her with praise:
"Miss Trabue is thoroughly competent, and is one of the most painstaking teachers that has ever taught art in this section of the state. She should have a large class, as the profession is useful."
Elsewhere in the same edition was given the cost of her instruction: "Lessons given twice a week for $2.00 per month."

Miss Tillie also taught at Columbia's Male & Female High School for a few years, and she gave semi-private lessons in her home. There were frequent mentions of her entertaining the young folks of Columbia at Willow Glen as well as the faculties of the M& F High School and the LWTS. Sometimes the gatherings were simply for the sake of entertainment, sometimes they were to raise money for art supplies for her classes at the M&F and the LWTS.

As much as Miss Tillie added to the early character of Lindsey Wilson and Columbia, however, it is for something entirely different that she and her sisters Mary and Lou should be remembered on Lindsey's Hill.

The school was approved at the M.E.C.S. conference held in Columbia in the fall of 1902, but its reality was far from certain, as several thousand dollars had to be raised in Adair and the surrounding counties to help pay for the land and building. (The original plan called for only one structure, a classroom building with auditorium.)

It isn't likely the sisters Trabue were even modestly well off, but being civic-minded, they wanted to contribute in whatever way they could, and contribute they did, as reported in the December 24, 1902 News:
"Misses Mary, Lou and Tillie Trabue came to the rescue of the Methodist School with an important and valuable contribution. At the meeting held in the court-house last Wednesday they gave all the stone needed in the construction of the building."
Which building, you ask? The one originally built as a -- the -- Training School classroom building, known today it as the L.R. McDonald Administration Building.
"Perfect for building rock. Thick or thin, level and flat. Walls built of this rock never fall. Apply to Misses Trabue."
(Miss Lucy Ellen "Lou" Trabue passed in 1914, age 69; Miss Mary in 1918, age 81; and Miss Tillie, the last of her family, in 1929, age 80.)

This story was posted on 2010-08-18 03:02:33
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L.R. McDonald foundation: Walls built of this rock never fall

2010-08-18 - Photo by Duane Bonifer. LWC photo. 210 Lindsey Wilson ST, Columbia, KY
Historian "Jim" unearthed a fascinating story about the stone used in the foundation for the L.R. McDonald Building. It came, he said, from a quarry on old Greensburg RD, 1.5 miles from town, owned by the Trabue sisters - Mary, Lou, and Tillie. Who, in advertising their quarry for rent, said of its product, "Walls built of this rock never fall." And so it has been with this Columbia landmark, shown above with its highly symbolic Brass Rail and and the splendid architectural achievement in the background, Begley Chapel.

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