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Leonard England recalls bear sighting on Independence Ridge

That wasn't Theron Stotts' big black lab, as he first thought. It was a bear! His son confirmed that he had seen bears, but didn't want to tell about because people might think it was a big tale. Now, as bears are becoming more common place, Leonard England is willing to share the full story with readers and print predecessor, ColumbiaMagazine! has maintained a fairly comprehensive section of bear stories, myths, and true and/or humorous account of bears here. To peruse the titles in the topic, click to Blue Ribbon Bear Board

By Linda & Ed Waggener

A black bear was sighted a couple of years back in Breeding, KY by Leonard England, now 82. He said it happened when he'd stopped to visit his neighbor Theron Stotts and first thought, as he was pulling back onto the road, that he was looking at Theron's big black Lab.

"I got within 100 feet of the animal, rolling slowly along behind it in my pickup truck, and realized, even with my poor vision, that was not any Lab, that was a bear! I'd never seen a bear here before. But I knew this was a big black bear, about a 200-pounder," he thinks it could have been.

He said he got a good look at the loping bear as it ran ahead of him a ways down Independence Ridge Road towards Breeding before it jumped off into Terry Harvey's thicket.

"I've got a big pond down there and some say bears love to fish that pond. There's been other bears seen there."

"My boy was deer hunting there, down the ridge on my farm, and I said something to him later about my bear sighting." He said, "Yeah," that he'd seen two Cubs wrestling just over the hill.

"I said, 'Well, you didn't say nothing to me about seeing bear cubs' and he said "Aw, nobody'd believe me if I'd told it.'"

This is just one of the many adventures of life back in his homeplace since he retired. Leonard left Breeding for Louisville in 1955 to get work. He said, "I got on at GE at $1.43 an hour and stayed there until I was offered early retirement at age 55, stuck my hand out, took it and came back home to farming." He is one of two local boys who went to seek their fortunes and enjoyed a career at Lousville's General Electric, the other is Allan Parnell.

He has clear memories of Breeding from his youth and shares them when asked. "I'd tell people at work when they asked me where I was from that I was Born at Dirigo, KY, lived on Casey Fork, and attended Greenbrier school in Logap, KY -- and they'd say, 'where in the hell is that??'"

Leonard wishes now he'd paid more attention when he was growing up to his mother, Verna Lee Pelston, and their friend Emery. He said, "They knew everything about everybody in this area and all the history of it. I went to school with Emery's daughter Barbara Alice. She wrote down her dads memories before he passed."

Breeding, in his youth, was a postal hub, he said. Edgar Janes and Amon Stotts had the contract carrying mail on Independence. Oval Cheatham carried Crocus. Arie Strange came from Edmonton, up Flatrock and Red Lick, and Cofer. He remembers the people and the roads they traveled on and what they drove, or rode in those days.

Leonard seems to be enjoying his years as a senior statesman in southern Adair County. I know I'm getting old now because whenever anybody wants to know something, they come and ask me.

He said he told the preacher recently, "I came into this world with nothing and will leave it just the same. I never had much money but never had to worry about money. I've never had to worry about my health, worked 35 years at GE and missed only two weeks in all that time. Only thing I've had trouble with, I told him, is my love life, been married and divorced. The preacher said well if you'd turned that over to the Lord like you did everything else, you'd probably still be married."

Summing things up at the Breeding Country Mart, Leonard said, "I don't know why the Lord's leaving me here unless it's to beautify."

This story was posted on 2017-08-27 16:54:17
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Leonard England, holding forth at Breeding Country Mart

2017-08-27 - Breeding Country Mart, 14332 Burkesville Road, Breeding, KY - Photo by Ed Waggener,
Leonard England will share a thing or two with people who will listen, including his life in Breeding, his sojourn at General Electric, even the story of the bear he saw on Independence Ridge a couple of years ago. Now, at 82, he wonders why he was left here on earth, "Unless," he quips, "if it isn't to just beautify."

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