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A Scene in the Life of Colonel William Casey, Pioneer

Historian Mike Watson weighs in on the side of keeping the name: 'Colonel William Casey Elementary School' exactly as it is, as first advocated by fellow historian Ken Hill. Mr. Watson writes, Casey was the man who brought the first teacher to what is now Adair County. He deserves the recognition of having his name remain on CWC school.

By Mike Watson

The following is a short extract from History of Adair County, originally written in the early 1900s by Judge Rollin T. Hurt under the pseudonym John Avroe Steele and published as a serial in the Adair County News. The series of articles were reprinted in the Columbia, KY, Daily Statesman in the 1980s with some minor editing; later published in book form as Hurt's History of Adair County, edited by Mike Watson, and with some additional data.

Take into consideration the version here, in Judge Hurt's vernacular, was written a century ago and his vocabulary may seem archaic to some today.


By Judge Rollin T. Hurt

Another circumstance in the eventful life of Colonel William Casey has been faithfully preserved by tradition, though it has never found it easy into the writings of any historian of the period or since. During one of the years which Casey spent in Lincoln County, the incursions of the Indians were so frequent and fierce that all of the persons who had ventured to build homes and to reside without the forts and stockades were compelled to abandon their holdings and to remove to the forts and strongly defended places of safety. One of these temporarily abandoned places was a cabin with a small acreage of improved land surrounding it which had been sown in flax. The pioneers of this state of that day were situated at such a distance from any civilized community where clothing could be procured, and separated from the nearest inhabited places by ranges of mountains, which was covered with a wilderness and inhabited by nothing except wild beasts and wilder men; they were forced to rely upon themselves for supplies of every kind, and a crop of flax, out of which clothing, ropes and other necessities could be made, was a thing of too much importance to be allowed to go to waste.

When the flax crop was ready to be saved, Casey headed a party of men and women who went out for the purpose of harvesting the flax. When they arrived at the cabin, a number of men were placed at each side of the field as sentinels and to guard the flax pullers against any sudden onset by the Indians. The others proceeded to "pull the flax." This was affected by pulling the flax stalks from the ground with the hands and laying them in rows in small bundles. Casey and Robert Herald were two of the men who, with the assistance of the women, were engaged in pulling the flax.

A band of about fifteen Indians adroitly succeeded in getting between the sentinels and the flax pullers unobserved, and then with a sudden whoop, descended upon the latter. All were terrorized and panic stricken by the suddenness and unexpectedness of the attack and apparent enormity of danger. The sentinels, taken, as they believed, in the rear, precipitately fled. The men who were engaged in pulling flax were taken at so great a disadvantage, believed there was no chance of escape from death except in an immediate flight.

At the first, Casey's heart failed and, like the others, he started to run away. The cries of the women and children, however, fell upon his ears and arrested him. To him it seemed better to die in defense of these helpless ones than it was to live with the memory of having abandoned them to the cruel fate which necessarily awaited them. He returned to the women and children and endeavored to get them started going in the direction of Logan\'s Fort. At the first, this appeared to be hopeless as they were greatly excited, overcome with fear and stricken with terror, so much so that several of the women were jumping up and down, screaming and making no progress. Evidently, the Indians thought to capture all of the women, and forbore to fire upon them.

One warrior rushed forward and seized Mrs. Fletcher (who was Col. Casey's sister, Christina), one of the hysterical ones, by the hair, when Casey, who feared to discharge his rifle because he would then be set upon and slain before he could reload, dealt the Indian such a heavy blow with the barrel of his rifle that the skull of the Indian was crushed and he sank to rise no more. With the judgment of forethought, which never failed him upon occasion of extreme peril, Casey had already realized that alone he would make a hopeless fight, because when his gun should be discharged, the Indians would rush upon him before he could reload, and he would have no chance for his life in a hand-to-hand combat with knife and tomahawk against so many adversaries. Concealed behind a tree from the rifle fire of the Indians, he strenuously exhorted the women to proceed with all dispatch while the Indians were afraid to rush forward, as they knew it would be death to one or more of their number and before they could slay Casey, and they were maneuvering to kill Casey and capture all the women without exposing themselves to too much danger. Casey believed that there was one among those who had precipitately fled who would return and assist him, if he could make him to hear his call. That was Robert Herald.

So, while maneuvering to get the women started toward Logan\'s Fort and to keep the Indians temporarily at bay, he called at the top of his voice for Herald to return, addressing him by name. Luckily, Herald heard the despairing call and at once he returned to the scene. In after years, Casey said that when Herald returned he appeared to be cool and composed, but had an expression on his face which clearly indicated that in his opinion he had returned to die, but had made up his mind to sell his life as dearly as possible. Herald calmly requested Casey to tell him what he would have him do... - Judge Rollin T. Hurt
Casey was the man who brought the first teacher to what is now Adair County. He deserves the recognition of having his name remain on CWC school. - Mike Watson

This story was posted on 2012-09-18 05:33:57
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