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JIM: Christmas Eve: Leatherwood Creek, Nell, Adair Co., Ky 1869


(First posted too late - 2010-12-26 06:08:42 - and posted a few days early this year. It's a dandy from Paul Revere, channeled through JIM): Ladies and gentlemen: ]This Christmas Eve story, replete with timeless Adair County characters and memories of the Village of Nell-upon-Leatherwood Creek, Adair Co., KY, circa 1869: Including Dr. Taylor, the Bell Bros., John and Joe; Joe Walkup and his bachelor brother Junius; the prince of good men, William L. Walker; Brud and Leroy Walker; Dallas Estes, John D. Kinnaird. A good time was had by all, too numerous to list, with 28 of the 27 present in 1869 getting drunk, according to Paul Revere, one of the celebrants. Today such goings on in Leatherwood rarely happen, as the contemporary community is nigh as righteous as Gradyville, (Nell's triplet city, along with Weed, KY) though it obviously would fall short of the sanctity standard in Jim's beloved homeland, Sacred Triangle of Sano, Esto, and Ono. -CM

By "Jim"

In 1898, Mr. Joseph (J.A.) Turner, a longtime resident of Metcalfe County, returned to his native Adair County for the space of a few months. For a number of years, his writing had appeared in the Edmonton and Glasgow newspapers under the cognomen Paul Revere. During that brief sojourn to the Auld Sod in1898, he continued dispensing, via the Adair County News, his own puckish brand of wit, wisdom, and humor, frequently (quite tongue in cheek) bemoaning his fate as the husband of the red-haired woman. Or, as he so eloquently poker-faced in another letter, "I finally found, wooed, and won the heart and hand of the red-haired woman, who has spared no pains in trying to elevate me to the same plane with herself."

The following, excerpted from his letter published in the July 20, 1898
News, starts as a reverie about the Nell community but segues into an offbeat tale of his Christmas Eve adventures up Leatherwood Creek, circa 1869.


Some days ago I was called by Dr. Taylor to the little village of Nell, in the lower end of this county, to do some surveying. Twenty nine years ago I boarded in sight of the place where the village now stands, and taught my first school, being then only sixteen years old. I had not been there since, and you can imagine my feelings as I looked on the kind faces, and talked with the old friends, some of them my near kin, who I had not met for so long.

It brought up tender memories. I thought of the kind family with whom I boarded, long since gone West, where most of the family have paid the debt that we all must pay sooner or later. There are others of the little village who were then young men, who are now grown old, some of whose heads are bosoming on the grave.

The little village, though small, is the home of some of the best people in Adair county, among whom are Dr. Taylor, John and Joe Bell, Joe Walkup and his bachelor brother, Junius, and that prince of good men, William L. Walker. Besides the residences of these and other citizens, the village contains a blacksmith shop, owned and controlled by Brud and Leroy Walker. A fine spring of good sulphur water has been discovered in the creek near the limits of the village. The town is situated on Leatherwood creek, some two or three miles from its juntcion with East Fork, and is surrounded by some of as good farming land as can be found in this part of the country.

As I said before, the remembrance of the happy days I spent in the little village called up scenes long since forgotten amid the busy cares of maturer life. The neighborhood was then full of young men, who, like most youngsters of today, were full of life and loved to frolic fully as well as they do these days, and I have thought perhaps enjoyed a spree better than they do now. Well, we had a great deal of sport during the winter of which I speak. One little spree I will relate.

On Christmas eve night, as dark and cold a night as commonly seen in this country, we are all met at Kinnaird's store, equipped with guns, bells, tin buckets, horns, etc., headed by Dallas Estes, armed with an old "rattle trap," we proceeded to serenade the neighborhood in regular order. We started up Leatherwood creek and serenaded every family as we came to them, the noted Mark Gallagher included.

We got along swimmingly until we struck the cabin of Daniel Walker, an aged and crippled African, who made his living retailing cider and whiskey, and it is a notable fact that the events after we left Daniel's are a little dim in my memory.

I remember trying to explode the old theory of the man in the moon to my less educated friends. I remember, too, of an old time wrestle between Capt. William L. Walker and the lamented John D. Kinnaird, who was afterward sheriff of Metcalfe county and was murdered while in the line of duty by a moonshiner.

It was as jolly a crowd as ever serenaded Leatherwood. There were twenty seven of us, and the erratic John Bell says there were twenty eight of us got drunk. In conclusion I want to say that the little spell of nervous headache which followed that serenade made a lasting impression on my mind, as it was my first nervous attack. -- Paul Revere


This story was posted on 2011-12-14 21:10:57
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