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After The Flood: Dr. L. C. Nell Remained Dominant Adair County Figure

This article first appeared in issue 14, and was written by Ed Waggener.

". . . That was Dr. Lawrence Nell. He stood by his convictions, and his friends. And, what more can a man do. Pages might be written, but not one-tenth so expressive as his actions."

-From a Louisville newspaper column in his day

When Dr. Lawrence C. Nell died, on June 20, 1940, his death brought an outpouring of tributes in area and state newspapers. Over 1,000 attended his funeral in Gradyville-an enormous number even for now-and this was in the days when travel was not as quick and easy as it is today.

It was a tribute to an Adair County giant who had been elected State Representative in 1903, State Senator in 1905, was a Presidential Elector for Kentucky in the election of 1924, and was elected Senator and Representative again in the 1930's.

He met his second wife, Margaret Stratton of Owen County, in Frankfort.

They were married on February 16, 1912. The new Mrs. Nell was a gracious, highly educated woman. She was also one of Adair County's early feminists. She was a school board member and a power in her own right for years. There were two children born to them. The oldest, Lawrence Nell, Jr., died of polio at age 17. Mrs. W.S. Baker, writing from Gradyville to the county paper at the time, wrote of the strength of the boy's spirit, "All along through his sickness he talked of Heaven and told his parents that he was going there, saying he would not need his crutches there."

The other, a cherubic redhead with a million dollar smile, was named Lula Yates Nell, for Dr. Nell's first wife. She married Joe Allen Dudley. Mrs. Dudley taught in the Adair County School system. Mr. Dudley was an Adair County Sheriff and later President of the Bank of Columbia. Their only child, Marilyn, married Joe Sparks. The Sparkses own and operate Traditions, Antiques & More, at Breeding . " I would loved to have known him, he must have been a wonderful man," Mrs. Sparks said of her grandfather.

This story was posted on 1997-06-15 12:01:01
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Archive Photo

1997-06-15 - Photo Staff. The late Lula Yates Nell Dudley was the only surviving child of Dr. L.C. Nell's second marriage, to Margaret Stratton of Owen County. Mrs. Dudley is fondly remembered as a vibrant personality and an inspirational teacher . This item first appeared in Issue 14 of the print edition of Columbia! Magazine.
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Archive Photo

1997-06-15 - Photo Staff. CLOCKWISE, starting lower left, Dr. Nell in the front yard of his Gradyville home, showing porch of house which still stands between Parkway and Highway 80; then, larger view; then Dr. Nell with his second wife, Margaret Stratton Nell; then Lawrence Nell, Jr., with sister Lula Yates Nell; then center, portrait of the doctor as a young man; lower left, the doctor with Lula on her pony. (Photos from archives of Marilyn Dudley Sparks, Dr. Nell's granddaughter). This item first appeared in Issue 14 of the print edition of Columbia! Magazine.
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