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Mike Watson: Time & Memory are Fickle...

Mike Watson adds another time reckoning event to the 'Sudden Death of R.A.C. Martin.' - 'the day of the Zollicoffer fight (Battle of Mill Springs, 19 January 1862)

By Mike Watson, Adair County Historian

The reckoning of time and placement of events in proper order is often a daunting task. As an historian, a dumpster-diver for history, one might say, I have found the memory to be quite fragile. We often remember an event in vivid detail, but the sequence leaves us lacking.


Some months ago I contributed a comment to a "Jim Gem," which follows:
In recent civil court case research, I discovered that in the late 1870s and 1880s local lawyers were using the death R.A.C. Martin as a time reference when questioning witnesses in court or taking depositions. (R.A.C. Martin was the Cashier of the Bank of Columbia, shot and killed in the "Jesse James" robbery of 1872.) Not the robbery of the Bank of Columbia, but Mr. Martin's death. For example: "...was this before or after the sudden death of R.A.C. Martin..." Certainly, for many of us, it is difficult to remember specific dates. The lawyers knew that this specific day would forever be impressed in the memories of citizens of Columbia and Adair County. Witnesses could more readily state if a specific incident was before or after the "sudden death" of Cashier Martin.
Now, here is another time-event reckoning story, related by the late Welcome Hamon, long-time Glensfork correspondent to the Adair County News and Statesman. This particular contribution was printed in his column in the News, 23 November 1971:
"...a story told by H.K. Taylor. Bob Cabbell, a close neighbor of the Taylors, married before he was 21. Mr. K. and brother, Will, went down to Cabbell's to hear what they (Bob's parents) would have to say about Bob's marriage.

"Mr. Ches Cabbell, Bob's father, said, 'Someone is going to get into trouble. Bob isn't 21.' "Mrs. Jane Cabbell, Bob's mother, said, 'I don't know how old Bob is, but I know how old Joe is. He was born the day of the Zollicoffer fight (Battle at Mill Springs, 19 January 1862).' But she didn't know the date. "Mr. Cabbell said, 'I don't know how old Bob is. He was born the night the storm blew down the big tree at Uncle Robin's spring.' But he didn't know when that was."
Mr. K. Taylor was Herschel Kenyon Taylor, commonly called "K" or "Mr. K," born 1871, died 1949, the father of Mrs. Ruby Taylor Johnson Marshall, and grandfather of Joe Johnson.

- Mike Watson


This story was posted on 2012-04-25 09:13:39
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