‘Wright’s Fork of the long ago — McRoberts of Today’
by Burdine Webb
September 4th, 1941 edition of The Mountain Eagle [KY]
“A few days ago I saw Wright’s Fork and the town of McRoberts that lies along its waters, Shea’s Fork, Chopping Branch, Tom Biggs and Bark Camp– but it was a different picture to that of the long ago when, as a barefoot, one-gallused boy I trudged along pebbled creeks to the old school house which stood exactly where The Consolidation office and the post office have quarters now, where two of my older brothers taught “the young idea” in the olden days, when settlements were scant in these parts.
“It was a house now and then, one on Shea’s Fork, the hospitable home of Uncle Bill Wright, one on Chopping Branch, one on Tom Biggs, one at its mouth, and one or two further up. Uncle Jess Wright, brother of Capt. John Wright of the old days, had his log cabin home on the extreme head of the creek, and like the home of Uncle Bill, it was a haven of rest. No one was ever turned away.
“It was ‘exhibition time’ at the little school—the last day, a bleak December noonday, when a few recitations, a short talk from my brother, the teacher, a handful of patrons, and the term of school for that year ended. I recall recollections back from the haunts of the long past, and what Uncle Bill, the lone resident of Shea’s Fork, said to Brother and I, ‘Dinner’s waiting for you and you’re going up to eat.’ Yes, we went along, down the creek apiece, then up Shea’s Fork—it seemed a mile, along the zigzag creek, with tall, stately trees, proud monarchs of the forest clear down to the water’s edge—not a stick amiss.
“Three months later, in the month of March, poor old, blessed Uncle Bill Wright answered the call, not by a natural death, but from a felon’s bullet that ended all, and the country mourned. I heard it said by every one, ‘No better man ever lived.’ And in the same deplorable battle, ‘Little Andy’ Wright died like Uncle Bill. ‘Little Andy’ was his nephew.
“It was a mere, simple little dog fight, and Lige and Sam Wright, relatives of the two victims, angered, shot their rifles empty, leaving Uncle Bill and ‘Little Andy’ dead in fifteen inches of snow. Lige was shot, but he recovered. And all this because of a simple dog fight. It is a sickening story, a dark and bloody tragedy, that I have regretted to reiterate—but I never think of Shea’s Fork without my mind reverting back to that dismal, heartless day in the long ago.
“Today the only remnant that is left of the Uncle Bill place is the open top well. I stood beside it on my visit there, and thought, retrospective of Uncle Bill, Aunt Nancy, and their goodness. A tear to their precious memory.
“Today the Fork is teeming with good people, quiet, contented, prosperous. You have only to mention Uncle Bill Wright and they know the story.”