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100 years ago: Thus spake Mr. Joseph Allen Turner

Even 100 years ago, it was hard to keep the J.A. Turners straight. Readers of today may understand which one was from Big Elm, which one was from Russell County, and which one, writing under the nom de plume of 'Paul Rever,' living in Metcalfe Co., KY

by "Jim"

I'd intended to hold this one for later, but seeing as how I seem to have gotten tangled up in a canine fracas of a sort and me with neither a dog in the pit nor a dollar on the table, I thought it best to clear the remnants of my good name, posthaste. If there's anything left of it by the time I homeward slink a fortnight from now, I'll try to fish out Mr. (Joseph Allen) Turner's report on the source of Big Elm's name.

Mr. Joesph Allen Turner Speaks Up

Mr. Joseph Allen Turner of the Big Elm domain had a way with words, evidenced nowhere any better than in a slo-mo word spat with the Dirigo correspondent in the winter of 1909 over land values in the latter's corner of the world.

Mr. Turner's response to one such volley reads better than Mark Twain and R.R. Walker going head-to-head in the final round of the World One-Upsmanship contest. Penned the erstwhile Mr. Turner:

Now, Mr. Dirigo, in your last communication to the News you said your section was once the richest part of Adair County. Farms changed hands at eight and ten thousand dollars, that can now be bought for a few hundred dollars. It is lamentable that such a fine farming section, a garden spot of the world, to go down in such a manner as to produce nothing but dogwood, sumac and broomsedge. Now Mr. Dirigo, you are surely joking. We readers of the News in this part are getting interested in that section. Tell us more about it. You see that Ancient Egypt was the garden of the world way back, and now they are finding Cathedrals and Pyramids there. Now sir, don't you think there could be found in some remote back corner in the most densely dogwood thicket, something on the same order of your Garden of Eden of some years ago or more. /s/ J.A. Turner.

Two weeks later (I told you it was slo-mo), Mr. Campbell, the gentleman from Dirigo, fired a return salvo, in which he extended an invitation of a sort to Mr. Turner and ending by saying:

So now, Mr. Turner, if this is not satisfactory just come and see for yourself, and may we not ask that you hunt up the old Paul Revere cap and tell us something about the "red headed woman" before long.

But alas, alas, Mr. Dirigo! Before the gentle readers of the News ever got to page five and his retort, they had already learned of his monumental faux pas, as the front page informed thus:

Our Dirigo correspondent takes Mr. Turner to task, but he is mistaken as to the Turner. The one who writes over the nom de plume Paul Revere lives in Metcalfe County.

Another two weeks elapsed, and Mr. Turner (Mr. Joseph Allen Turner, that is) did a little clarification himself:

Now Mr. Campbell, of Dirigo, you are mistaken in the J.A. Turners, the one you mentioned is Superintendent of common schools of Metcalfe County. There is one J.A. Turner living in Adair County, but the one you want lives in Russell County.

(By-the-by, the rest of Mr. Turner's well-aimed blast in this edition topped the "sumac and broomsedge" hummer reported above.) Jim

This story was posted on 2010-12-16 21:36:07
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