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The Swamp Rabbit engineer had to back up a mile to retrieve a lost cow-catcher

Posted by | July 18, 2017

GREENVILLE OF OLD

by Charles A. David
Greenville News [SC]
July 18, 1926

You may name your boy Percival, Algernon, or Montmoresst, but if some chap at school dubs him “Sorrel-top,” “Bully,” or “Buster,” the nick-name will stick and his real name forgotten. So it has been with this little railroad–its owners christened it the Carolina, Knoxville and Western, but some fellow with a bit of humor in his make-up spoke of it as “The Swamp Rabbit,” and that appropriate name continues to the exclusion of the longer and higher-sounding one.

Its owners christened it the Carolina, Knoxville and Western, (shown here in 1888), but local wags quickly dubbed it "The Swamp Rabbit."

Its owners christened it the Carolina, Knoxville and Western, (shown here in 1888), but local wags quickly dubbed it “The Swamp Rabbit.”

When the route was surveyed, if it ever was, it was evident that if they followed the swamp bordering the river, that little grading would have to be done, and building the line would be just that much cheaper.

So we find that the railroad hugs the edge of the swamp from its starting point just below the “medder” to its terminal on the south bank of the Saluda, where the money gave out and the road suddenly stopped, and it gazes sadly across the stream that has never been bridged.

The road as it now stands, and it looks as if it was destined to stand there forever, is only some fifteen miles long–just a trifle longer than its name–its real name, I guess.

The road is now a little more than a right-of-way, and two wavy streaks of rust; but at one time it held hope of great things for Greenville, as it was intended to link this section with the rich coal fields of Tennessee, and we all dreamed dreams and had visions of cheaper coal, and a direct line over the mountains.

But the lack of money and the antagonism of rival interests sounded its death knell, and blasted our hopes. The road started out bravely, with the very best intentions, with head up and tall over the dashboard, planning to cross the mountains on a wonderful grade that had just been discovered, hesitate briefly at Knoxville, and then strike out into the boundless West.

But as it neared the foot of the mountains something happened–funds ran low, the enthusiasm languished, and the bubble that promised so much, burst with a sickening thud, leaving Knoxville and Greenville just as far apart as ever, and coal still sells around ten and twelve dollars a ton.

To add to its many troubles, the road got into court, and for years it was bombarded with attachments, injunctions, judgments and the like, and then rival factions took a hand, with the result that at one time the rails were taken up and sold, leaving nothing but the crossties, and most of them rotten.

But by some hook or crook new rails were procured, and once more the road was in a usable condition. One serious trouble with the road was that the name was too long for the length–it was misleading, as no one could understand why a road bearing the name Knoxville and Western should begin and end in the upper part of Greenville County, and people got to looking on the whole thing as a joke. For a while at first, daily trains were operated—I should have said train, not trains—which came down some time during the morning, and went back to the starting point in the afternoon, and spent the night where it was cool and pleasant.

It never was a train that bothered much about regular hours for leaving and arriving, and a hide-bound schedule was beneath its notice. It left when it got good and ready, and made no rash promises as to when it would arrive.

There was something delightfully informal about this friendly little railroad, and there was a certain element of chance about riding on it that added to the zest of the trip. It did not always stop at the same place, but you could flag it down anywhere simply by holding up your hand, and it would slow down and let you get on.

No one could keep from having kindly feeling for anything so obliging, and I came to have something akin to affection for it.

At that time one of my good friends and myself did considerable fishing, though we caught mighty few fish, and Montague, one of the stations, and in the streams about Riverview, so we came to be fairly regular patrons of the road, and the conductor never refused to take us on, or let us off, no matter where we might be.

Most of the rolling stock was second hand, and had been retired on a pension by some other road, and under the varnish of the passenger coach could distinctly be read the legend, “Pennsylvania RR. Co.,” showing that it was far from home and friends. I did not know until I became intimate with it that so many things could get the matter with a locomotive as happened to the motive power of the C.K. &W.

Some days it would make the trip without a single break down, and then again, it would have to stop for repairs every few miles. For instance, I remember returning one night from Marietta where I had been to attend the funeral of a friend, and coming down during a heavy rainstorm, the engineer discovered that he had lost the cow-catcher, and he had to back the train a mile or so before he found it in a ditch by the track, where it had come loose and dropped off. Such little things were constantly happening, but no one thought anything of them and took it as a matter of course.

The “Swamp Rabbit,” true to its name, did not mind inequalities in its pathway, so the track went up and down, following the lay of the land wherever possible. Lack of funds for the upkeep of the roadbed, light rails, and cheap equipment generally, served to make it one of the roughest I have ever encountered, and before a passenger got to the end of his journey he was considerably shaken up, and found that he owned bones that he did not know he possessed. I have heard that some of the farmer’s wives utilized this shaking up, and made the railroad to do their churning. They would take their churn of buttermilk along with them when going to town, and when the whistle blew for Greenville, all they had to do was to take off the top and remove the butter to a plate—it had been churned by the motion of the train. I do not say this was true, but it certainly was possible.

I remember one day that my fishing companion and myself boarded the train in Greenville for a day’s outing in the country, and from the time we pulled out I noticed that it was running even slower than usual, and I inquired the cause, and the conductor coolly informed us that the car just ahead was loaded with dynamite for Wing’s quarry, several miles up the road, and he wanted to get it there with as little jolting as possible. Very reassuring, that, to the two fishermen sitting there gripping reels in one hand and lunch in the other! But the conductor told us that he had carried up several loads of the stuff and none of it had exploded yet. After that experience we always made it a point to find out what the car in front was loaded with before we bought tickets.

The “Swamp Rabbit” road is still running in a spasmodic kind of way, hauling gravel, cordwood, and an occasional coop of chickens.

They will tell you that they are only running tri-weekly freight, but they do not tell you that that means you come down one week and try to get back the next, but find that live passengers are barred.

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Francis Scott Key’s descendants in western Maryland

Posted by | July 17, 2017

In 1870 Alice Key Howard [the author’s aunt], a daughter of Mrs. Charles Howard, bought from a man named Stabler a four room hunting lodge with separate kitchens, standing in a dense grove of oaks, many of whose survivors still surround the present house.

This picture, “The Foot Paths Through The Glades,” is a reprint of a painting, artist unknown, made for the American Bank Note Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It presents a true-to-life scene in Mt. Lake Park, Maryland, around 1890. The paths were made of tan bark.

This picture, “The Foot Paths Through The Glades,” is a reprint of a painting, artist unknown, made for the American Bank Note Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It presents a true-to-life scene in Mt. Lake Park, Maryland, around 1890. The paths were made of tan bark.

Even in my memory there was an oak grove with a path through it where the present Shafer house now stands. Several additions and wings were built before the original four room lodge became the low rambling red structure, now known as 79 Alder Street.

Willed by Alice Key Howard to her niece, Elizabeth B. Howard, its present owner, it was for eighty years the summer home of many of Francis Scott Key’s grandchildren and great grandchildren.

One grandson, John Ross Key, a notable painter, especially of mountain scenery, was a frequent visitor, and one of his paintings of “The Old County Bridge” was long in the possession of an Oakland family.

McHenry Howard, father of Elizabeth G. Howard, was a passionate fisherman, and with his first cousin, Dr. James McHenry Howard, went by horseback, or by horse and buggy, over then all but impossible roads, on month long fishing trips to the Cheat and Elk Rivers. His diary, illustrated in part by his own sketches, is immediately destined to the Garrett County Historical Society.

Another granddaughter of Francis Scott Key’s, Mrs. Edward Lloyd of Wye House, Talbot County, spent much time with her mother in Oakland, as did Mrs. Charlton Morgan (Ellen Key Howard) of Lexington, Kentucky. In fact, Mr. and Mrs. Charlton Morgan and their children spent several winters in Oakland, one at least at 79 Alder Street.

A notable group of boys played together in Oakland in those days. Cal Crim, Henry McComas, Charles McHenry Howard and Thomas Hunt Morgan. Thomas Hunt Morgan, winner of the Nobel Prize for biology in 1933, and known before his death several years ago as the greatest living biologist in the world, received his first schooling in what I understand was a log cabin schoolhouse in Oakland. He and his cousin, Charles McHenry, were great rattlesnake hunters and amassed a trophy of rattles which I still own.

In 1893, Mrs. Charles Howard (Elizabeth Phoebe Key) celebrated her 90th birthday in Oakland. All day a stream of visitors poured in, people from Oakland and Deer Park. (I have her letter written to an absent member of her family which also, with her picture, will go to the Garrett County Historical Society.) In the evening, a large dinner party was given and I vividly remember the long table decorated with ferns and with ninety candles blazing.

In 1897 she died there, and again I remember the American Flag in red, white and blue flowers which covered the coffin, sent by “Doctor McComas.”

Many members of the family have died at 79 Alder Street, the little daughter of Dr. Edward Lloyd Howard and Laura Maynard Howard first, in 1894. Since then, Mrs. McHenry Howard in 1908, McHenry Howard in 1923, and their daughter May Howard in 1943.

A very deep love for Oakland and Garrett County is born into, and inherited by, all the descendants of Francis Scott Key, who have spent their summers at 79 Alder Street, and though for the past two years the present writer is the only member of the family to get there, and that, in all too short a stay, yet it is always with a deep sense of homecoming, of belonging in great part to Garrett County, that I return.

“A Summer Home in the Mountains,” by Julia McHenry Howard, Tableland Trails magazine, Summer 1953, pp 2-4, Felix G. Robinson, publisher

Julia McHenry Howard (1886-1959) was a great-granddaughter of Francis Scott Key, composer of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

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He wears the breeches but the lady has the brains

Posted by | July 14, 2017

John Wesley Langley resigned from Congress (R., Kentucky 10th Congressional District) in January 1926, after losing an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States to set aside his conviction on charges of conspiracy to violate the Volstead Act. He’d been caught trying to bribe a Prohibition officer and sent to the federal penitentiary in Atlanta.

From his jail cell he made a plea to his constituents to elect his wife to vindicate his name. He claimed that he was ‘practically penniless’ and that the only hope of saving their home was to send his wife to serve a term in Congress while he sat in prison.

When Katherine Langley (1883-1948) hit the campaign trail that spring, her husband’s conviction was a cause celebre—the feeling was widespread that her husband had been the victim of a political conspiracy. She delivered over 100 speeches, each time glorifying the name of her husband and promising to carry out his goals.

Katherine Langley was well prepared to for the task. She had worked as secretary to her husband during his 18 years in office; was an active member of the Kentucky Republican Party; was the founder of the Women’s Republican State Committee; had served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1924; and had served on the Kentucky Railroad Commission. “John Langley wears the breeches,” winked one newspaper editorialist, “but the lady has the brains.”

John Wesley Langley & Katherine G. Langley of Pikeville KYOriginal photo caption reads: Both Once Congress Members – They Celebrate Silver Anniversary; Mr. and Mrs. John W. Langley as they appeared on the celebration of their silver wedding anniversary at their home in Pikeville, Ky. Mrs. Langley is a Congresswoman from the 10th Kentucky Congressional district, having succeeded her husband after he was charged with violation of the prohibition laws. At left is their two daughters, left to right: Miss Susannah Langley and Mrs. Katherine Bentley., 11/29/29.

She won the Republican primary election against a field of seven other candidates, including Andrew J. Kirk, who had been elected to finish out Langley’s unexpired term; and that fall she defeated her Democratic opponent to become the seventh woman elected to the House. Because of the growing controversy over Prohibition, her victory attracted wide editorial attention. Most comment was favorable; major Kentucky newspapers expressed the view that Mrs. Langley’s election was traceable to “the inherent loyalty of the mountain folk.”

Not all her congressional colleagues accepted her, politics being what it is. “She offends the squeamish by her unstinted display of gypsy colors on the floor and the conspicuousness with which she dresses her bushy blue-black hair,” one newspaper sniffed. She was also criticized for her flowery oratory on the House floor, a result of her earlier career as a speech teacher. These issues had no affect on the voters she served, however; she was re-elected to the 71st Congress in 1928 by a larger vote than she’d received in her first run.

Mrs. Langley lobbied President Coolidge to grant clemency to her husband, which he did with the understanding that John Langley never again seek office. However, in 1929 Mr. Langley chose to disregard that understanding and announced his intention to regain his former House seat. When Katherine Langley said she had no intention of stepping down for her husband or anyone else, the result was a publicly aired domestic quarrel that doomed the political futures of both husband and wife. When election day arrived, it was Mrs. Langley’s name that appeared on the ballot, but many Republicans stayed away from the polls, insuring victory for the Democratic candidate.

Sources: Notable American Women, 1607-1950, by Edward T. James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S. Boyer, Radcliffe College

http://www.runningstartonline.org/young-women/hall-of-fame/katherine-langley.php

Biographical Dictionary of Congressional Women, by Karen Foerstel

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Was it murder? Or a heart attack?

Posted by | July 13, 2017

“I went up to Wise that night along with my cousin and not meaning no harm,” testified Edith Maxwell at her murder trial. “Along in the evening Raymond Meade came along and said he would give me a lift back to my house in Pound. There was some more people in the car with him but we let them out down the road a piece and Raymond Meade says to me: ‘Let’s go to the Little Ritz and get something to eat.’ ”

“The Lonesome Pine Girl,” accused of killing her father Trigg on July 20, 1935, attracted the attention and support of newspaper, magazine, and radio reporters, as well as women’s organizations, across the United States and Canada. Her nickname is a reference to a well known 1908 John Fox novel, The Trial of the Lonesome Pine, that portrayed the lifestyle of mountain residents in a rather one-dimensional manner.

Edith Maxwell. Courtesy TopFoto/The Image Works.

Edith Maxwell. Courtesy TopFoto/The Image Works.

So
 popular was the tale with the American public that a third production of it–
this one in sound and color–was being filmed, with considerable publicity,
even as Edith Maxwell faced the first of two trials in the Wise County, VA courthouse.

The media coverage the case received for nearly 
two years rivaled that given to the Scopes “monkey trial” of the 1920s. By the end of Maxwell’s ordeal, even Eleanor Roosevelt had gotten involved.

Why the national spotlight? The Maxwell case was a clash between modernity and tradition, between “women’s rights and reason against bigotry and fanaticism.” On the side of bigotry and tradition was the “code” of the Virginia mountains, where women and children had to obey and submit to the father, even when he physically abused them.

Edith had left home for two years of teacher’s college, highly unusual for a young woman of her circumstances. After attending Radford State Teachers College (later Radford University), Maxwell reluctantly returned to Pound, where she associated with the “bright young set,” tested the boundaries of acceptable behavior, and became frustrated by the limitations of small-town life.

Raymond Meade tried to get her to drink some liquor, Edith continued in her November 1935 court testimony, but all she took was some potato chips and a glass of ginger ale. She told him it was getting late and she had better be starting for home because she was going blackberrying next morning.

When she got home around midnight her little sister, Mary Catherine, warned her: “Your bed covers is in Pappy’s room but don’t go in there. He’s drunk and he’s going to run Ma out of the house tomorrow.” But Edith went in anyhow. Pappy woke up.

‘I’m goin’ to whip you,” he said.

“Pappy, don’t you do it,” said Edith.

Pappy chased her out of the bedroom and grabbed a carving knife. “Pappy, don’t you cut me,” said Edith.

“I’ll show you I can whip you,” said Pappy.

Edith Maxwell in Wise County prison

Edith fell to the floor and fumbled for a pair of old high-heeled shoes she had given her Ma. She flailed out with one of them. Pappy fell back. Edith, half-naked from the fight, caught up a covering, ran out of the house. She could hear Pappy moaning: “Jesus, Jesus, why can’t a man whip his own child?” Trigg was soon dead, allegedly from the beating Edith gave him.

The prosecutor tried to show that Edith was a fast filly who had saddened her honest mountaineer father with her late hours and citified ways. But he could not shake her story of the fight. It was further corroborated by Edith’s 11-year-old sister Mary Catherine who, when twitted by the prosecutor for forgetting certain details, leaned out of the witness chair and yelled: “And you wouldn’t remember so good either if you had been as scared as I was that night with Pappy a-yellin’ and a-cussin’ and Edith a-tryin’ to outrun him!”

Edith, argued her lawyers, had exercised no more than her “God-given right of self-defense.” But that did not impress the jury, which, after less than an hour’s deliberation, returned a guilty verdict.

Despite expert medical testimony that Trigg’s wounds could not have caused his death and that he had probably died of a stroke or heart attack, rumor and innuendo were enough to send Edith to jail for five years of a 25 year sentence.

She was pardoned by Gov. James H. Price in December 1941 – thanks, in part, to a letter written on her behalf by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Upon her release, Edith changed her name to Ann Grayson and eventually made a new life for herself in Jacksonville, Fla., after marrying Otto Abshier, the owner of an Indianapolis trucking company.

The day after Trigg Maxwell died, his wife Ann, along with their daughter, had been indicted, but never brought to trial. Was Trigg Maxwell hit by Edith? Or was it Ann? Or was he hit at all?

Sources: www.blueridgecountry.com/FavoriteArticles/EdithMaxwell_MA06/index.html

http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/VALib/v52_n2/reviews.html

www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,848229,00.html

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3686/is_199512/ai_n8723473

www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=14615437&BRD=1283&PAG=461&dept_id=158544&rfi=6

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They’d get up and swing around on the trapeze

Posted by | July 12, 2017

“Well, I’ll tell you, I came from up in Washington County. Washington County, Ohio. Lived up in the country there with my grandmother. My mother died when I was a little fellow and I lived with my grandmother. Lived up there in the country and all you could see was the steamboats. There was nothing else up there to look at except the trees and the farms, and one thing and another. So I lived there until I got to be sixteen years old. Watched the boats and went down when the boats landed. I got acquainted with some of the fellows on the boat and after awhile I got a job on the boat …

“… The man never made any money out of [the water circus]. Well, I’ll tell you, he went down the river, we followed the river down here, made all the river towns aware, that there were any justified to stop at. Got out of Paducah and after he got to Paducah he decided he didn’t want to go down the river any farther, he wanted to come back. He lived at Ironton and he didn’t want to get too far away from home.

“His name was Newman. So he came back up the same way he came down, what they called backtracking, and he didn’t do much business. He lost his shirt. He had a few [animals], but not very many. He managed to sort of get along without them because they was too hard to handle and too hard to acquire. They’d be liable to get loose and eat up some of the audience.

Adam Forepaugh & Sells Bros. Circus, circa 1898
“He had a lot of performers. He had trapeze performers and he had the fellows that’d do these cartwheels and all that kind of stuff. They’d get up and swing around on the trapeze and turn flip flops in the air. Oh they had a lot of things there. Had a couple of fellows under a great big old blanket and get them up in a certain way and made kind of an animal at of it they called a jocko. It was a kind of ridiculous looking thing but it sure did bring the house down. They made a hit every time they put it on. Didn’t mean anything.

“You’ve seen two men under a blanket I expect. That’s about all it was, but it made a hit. Another thing he had was an imitation of an automobile. At that time there was no such thing as an automobile, hardly. People had heard of them, but nobody had ever seen them hardly. He had a thing there on the boat that had four wheels on it and it was supposed to represent an automobile and boy there was a crowd around that thing all the time looking at it. It wouldn’t run. They had to pull it around when they wanted to move it and there wasn’t an engine or anything of that kind but it made a hit. Just goes to show how things were changed since that time.”

Captain Jesse Hughes
of the riverboat “The Cricket”
which he piloted 1900-1903 along the Ohio & Big Sandy Rivers
1957 interview

Source: http://www.uis.edu/archives/memoirs/HUGHESJ.pdf

Related post: “Last of the Packet Boats”

Jesse+Hughes water+circus the+Cricket Washington+County+OH Ohio+River Big+Sandy+River appalachia appalachian+culture appalachian+history history+of+appalachia

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