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Every time I attempted to start, my new horse would commence to kick

Posted by | January 25, 2018

“When I was seven or eight years of age, I began hauling all the wood used in the house and shops. I could not load it on the wagons, of course, at that time, but I could drive, and the choppers would load, and some one at the house unload.

“When about eleven years old, I was strong enough to hold a plough. From that age until seventeen I did all the work done with horse, such as breaking up the land, furrowing, ploughing corn and potatoes, bring in the crops when harvested, hauling all the wood, besides tending two or three horses, a cow or two, and sawing wood for stoves, etc., while still attending school.

“For this I was compensated by the fact that there was never any scolding or punishing by my parents; no objection to rational enjoyments, such as fishing, going to the creek a mile away to swim in summer, taking a horse and visiting my grandparents in the adjoining county, fifteen miles off, skating on the ice in the winter, or taking a horse and sleigh when there was snow on the ground.

Birthplace of Ulysses S. GrantThe birthplace of Ulysses S. Grant, Point Pleasant, Ohio. Lithograph.

“While still quite young I had visited Cincinnati, forty-five miles away, several times, alone; also Maysville, KY, often, and once Louisville. The journey to Louisville was a big one for a boy of that day.

“I had also gone once with a two-horse carriage to Chilicothe, about seventy miles, with a neighbor’s family, who were removing to Toledo, OH, and returned alone; and had gone once, in like manner, to Flat Rock, KY, about seventy miles away. On this latter occasion I was fifteen years of age.

“While at Flat Rock, at the house of a Mr. Payne, whom I was visiting with his brother, a neighbor of ours in Georgetown, I saw a very fine saddle horse, which I rather coveted, and proposed to Mr. Payne, the owner, to trade him for one of the two I was driving.

“Payne hesitated to trade with a boy, but asking his brother about it, the latter told him that it would be all right, that I was allowed to do as I pleased with the horses. I was seventy miles from home, with a carriage to take back, and Mr. Payne said he did not know that his horse had ever had a collar on.

“I asked to have him hitched to a farm wagon and we would soon see whether he would work. It was soon evident that the horse had never worn harness before; but he showed no viciousness, and I expressed a confidence that I could manage him. A trade was at once struck, I receiving ten dollars difference.

“The next day Mr. Payne, of Georgetown, and I started on our return. We got along very well for a few miles, when we encountered a ferocious dog that frightened the horses and made them run. The new animal kicked at every jump he made. I got the horses stopped, however, before any damage was done, and without running into anything.

“After giving them a little rest, to quiet their fears, we started again. That instant the new horse kicked, and started to run once more. The road we were on, struck the turnpike within half a mile of the point where the second runaway commenced, and there there was an embankment twenty or more feet deep on the opposite side of the pike. I got the horses stopped on the very brink of the precipice.

“My new horse was terribly frightened and trembled like an aspen; but he was not half so badly frightened as my companion, Mr. Payne, who deserted me after this last experience, and took passage on a freight wagon for Maysville.

“Every time I attempted to start, my new horse would commence to kick. I was in quite a dilemma for a time. Once in Maysville I could borrow a horse from an uncle who lived there; but I was more than a day’s travel from that point.

“Finally I took out my bandanna—the style of handkerchief in universal use then—and with this blindfolded my horse. In this way I reached Maysville safely the next day, no doubt much to the surprise of my friend. Here I borrowed a horse from my uncle, and the following day we proceeded on our journey.”


Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, Part One, by Ulysses S. Grant, Charles L. Webster & Company, 1885–86

Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th U.S. President and Union general-in-chief during the Civil War, grew up in Georgetown, OH, the son of an Ohio tanner. After retiring from the Presidency, Grant became a partner in a financial firm, which went bankrupt. About that time he learned that he had throat cancer. He started writing his recollections to pay off his debts and provide for his family, racing against death to produce a memoir that ultimately earned his family nearly $450,000. Soon after completing the last page, in 1885, he died.


When I went to suck my bottle of milk, Uncle made fun of me

Posted by | January 24, 2018

I was born September 13, 1893, at the old Sapp homestead, my lifelong home, which my parents, John R. and Sanepta A. Sapp, bought in the early ’80s from Lewis Wilson. At my birth, Dr. Luther Grimes and Mrs. Amanda Mills (she was Bob Mills’ grandmother and lived in the brick house south of the Knoxville School) were the attendants. Hence my middle name Mills.

I was the youngest of six sons: Charles, 14 years my senior; Wilbur, 13 years older; Lloyd, 12 years older, (now all dead); Edgar, 11 years older, now 93 years old and living alone in his home in Richmond, Ohio, well and strong, reads without glasses and needs no medicine; and Elbert, 7 years older, died March 7, 1971.

I was a very cross, bottle fed baby, with milk from a certain Jersey Cow, and my nurses—my older brothers—had to keep me outside when the weather was mild, so not to wreck mother’s nerves. My crib was the back of the old fashioned hand-turned grain cleaning windmill.

One day when I was past 3 years old, I was still sucking my bottle and I remember getting up at nights and filling my bottle. Well, this day Father and Mother took me and went to see Grandpa and Grandma Sapp and Uncle Anson, then when I went to suck my bottle of milk, Uncle made fun of me, so I took my bottle and hid behind the room door and he still teased me, so I crawled under the bed and finished it and after that I drank my milk from a tin pint cup, like they used in those days at farm sales for coffee and a free sack lunch.

The Anson Sapp Family. Left to right, Anson Jr., Uncle Anson, Mary, Aunt Clara and Martha.

The Anson Sapp Family. Left to right, Anson Jr., Uncle Anson, Mary, Aunt Clara and Martha.

Those days children wore long black stockings held up with rubber garters. Boys wore knee pants till they were 12. They had no kindergarten, but I remember brother Elbert taking me to school one day with him when I was 5 years old.

We had no RFD Mail, but a post office in the Knoxville Store, and Fred Mills—Bob’s uncle—was post master.

School took up with Bible reading and prayer at 9 a.m. with a 15 minute recess at 10:30, then an hour at noon till 1 p.m., recess again at 2:30, and out at 4 p.m. We always ran home at noon for our dinners and took the mail, and usually had some quick chores to do, then hurried back and had time to play some before the bell rang for classes.

We had a big pot bellied iron stove in the center of the room for coal heating and pupils used slates and slate pencils and black boards for arithmetic classes, and lined up on the floor for reciting a reading or spelling lesson. Then there was the water bucket shelf in one corner, with water bucket and dipper. We got the water from the Issac/Willis dug well, across the street, and drew the water with a windlass and a bucket. Two boys always got to go for a bucket of water.

I remember many a winter night, when I was small, that Father and I would take the lantern and go check on the sheep. Perhaps a new lamb, or perhaps twins, had just been born, so we would quickly wrap them up in a feed sack, put it in a bushel basket and hurry back to the house and get it out in front of the old coal grate fire and soon have it dry and warm, ready to take it back to get its first milk. I remember the big cut sandstone door sill a foot high that the lambs had to hop over, or we had to help the smaller ones over.

At shearing time, on a warm spring p.m., we would wash the sheep, as washed wool brought a higher price than unwashed wool.

We had a special sheep lot built with boards with a 3 foot wide chute to the washing box, down in the pasture field by the big old sycamore tree. We would build a small dam upstream 100 feet, then use 20 foot wooden “V” troughs to carry the water to the wooden 3 x 4 foot and 3 foot deep washing box.

Two would wash a sheep and lift it out and start it wobbling on its way. One man put a sheep in the wash. Then after a week of warm sunny days they were ready to shear, with hand clippers.


source: “Knoxville Facts,” by Joseph Mills Sapp (1893-1989), Knoxville [OH] Area History 1802 – 1976, published by the Knoxville Bicentennial Committee, Mrs. Richard Jacks, History Chairman


The Greenbrier Ghost

Posted by | January 23, 2018

On January 23, 1897, Elva Zona Heaster Shue of Lewisburg WV, a bride of three months, was found dead at the bottom of the stairs leading to the second floor of the log house where she lived with her new husband. Her body was discovered by a neighbor, a boy of about 11 years, who did chores for her. Her case remains to this day a one of a kind event in the American judicial system … the only case in which the word of a ghost helped to solve a crime and convict a murderer!

Zona Heaster ShueA state highway marker several miles west of town sums up Shue’s amazing story: “Interred in a nearby cemetery is Zona Heaster Shue. Her death in 1897 was presumed natural until her spirit appeared to her mother to describe how she was killed by her husband Edward. Autopsy on the exhumed body verified the apparition’s account. Edward, found guilty of murder, was sentenced to state prison.”

Upon finding the dead woman, Andy Jones, the neighbor boy, ran back to his home where he informed his mother, and then continued on to the blacksmith shop where Edward S. Shue was working. When told of the situation Shue appeared in great anguish, ran to his home, gathered his dead wife into his arms, and directed local doctor and coroner, Dr. George W. Knapp, be called. All during this time Shue held Zona’s head in his arms. After a brief examination, Dr. Knapp concluded that Zona “died of an everlasting faint,” i.e. a heart attack.

The body was prepared for burial with Shue assisting in the preparation of her body for burial, and placing her in the casket, always handling her head. He placed a folded sheet on one side of her head and an article of clothing on the other side of her head, which he said would make her rest easier. In addition, he tied a large scarf around her neck and explained tearfully that it “had been Zona’s favorite.”

Zona was taken to the home of her mother, Mrs. Mary Jane Heaster, on nearby Big Sewell Mountain. When the casket was opened Shue always remained at the head of the casket. The next day her body was buried in the little cemetery on the hill top. Nothing more was thought of the death other than that usual for a sudden death of anyone.

Shue house, Lewisburg WVWithin a month of the burial, however, the dead girl’s mother was telling neighbors that Zona’s spirit had appeared four nights in a row to accuse the blacksmith of her violent death – to “tell on him” – to set the record straight about her dying. Shue had been abusive and cruel, she said, and had attacked her in a fit of rage, savagely breaking her neck. Word spread quickly that these visions had convinced Mary Jane that the husband – who called himself Edward, but was really named Erasmus Stribbling Trout Shue, and was known as ‘Trout’ – had killed her daughter.

Mary Heaster and her brother-in-law Johnson Heaster went to Lewisburg prosecutor John A. Preston, who first disbelieved the story, but after several hours of questioning Mrs. Heaster became convinced that there was a basis for an investigation.

Dr. Knapp was consulted and he agreed that he might have been mistaken in his diagnosis. An investigation into Shue’s background revealed that he had served a term in the penitentiary and had been married twice previously, and both wives had died under strange circumstances. One wife was supposed to have died from a broken neck when she fell from a haystack. The other wife died while helping Shue to repair a chimney. He was on top the chimney and his wife was placing the rocks in a basket with a rope attached to it and as the basket was drawn up the basket turned and dropped the rock on the head of his wife.

Mary Jane HeasterAn exhumation was ordered and an inquest jury was assembled. The Greenbrier Independent reported that Trout Shue “vigorously complained” about the exhumation but it was made clear to him that he would be forced to attend the inquest if he did not go willingly. In rebuttal he replied that he knew that he would be arrested, “but they will not be able to prove I did it.” This careless statement indicated that he at least had knowledge that his wife had been murdered.

The autopsy findings were quite damning to Shue. An Independent report on March 9 said that “the discovery was made that the neck was broken and the windpipe mashed. On the throat were the marks of fingers indicating that she had been choken [sic]….. the neck was dislocated between the first and second vertebrae. The ligaments were torn and ruptured. The windpipe had been crushed at a point in front of the neck.”

The findings were made public at once, upsetting many in the community. Shue was arrested, charged with murder, and taken to the jail at Lewisburg where he was held until his indictment by a Grand Jury and the trial in June.

On June 22, 1897 the jury returned a verdict of guilty after only one hour and ten minutes of deliberation. The accounts in the Independent make clear that Shue was convicted of the murder of his third wife on circumstantial evidence, and not because of a “ghost’s testimony.” He was sentenced to life in the state prison. Following a foiled lynching attempt a few days later, he was taken by train to the state prison in Moundsville, where he died on the first of March, 1900.



The Russell House

Posted by | January 22, 2018

William Ganaway Russell had the good fortune to buy a farm exactly halfway between Walhalla SC and Highlands NC.

In 1849 an industrious group of Charleston German businessman were looking for a suitable parcel on which they could create a new settlement in SC, and formed the German Colonization Society to do so. Their plan was simple: they would buy a large fertile expanse of land, subdivide it, and resell it to immigrants who they would recruit from Germany.

After much deliberation, the Society purchased from Colonel Joseph Gresham 17,000 acres in Pickens District near the base of the Appalachians (in the center of modern day Oconee county.) They named the town they laid out Walhalla –‘paradise’ in German– and within two years, the first settlers arrived and began to clear & farm the land. The Society took an active role to insure that the new Blue Ridge Railroad ran from Anderson, SC to the new town, thereby providing the last leg of a solid rail connection all the way to Charleston. They expected Walhalla to grow into a major railroad center as the train route eventually snaked west towards Cincinnati. That reality never materialized.

Meantime, by the end of the 19th century The Blue Ridge Railway was regularly taking vacationers escaping from South Carolina’s coastal heat as far as Walhalla. But Walhalla wasn’t their final destination. They were headed to Highlands NC, a summer resort founded in 1875 by Samuel T Kelsey and Clinton C. Hutchinson. The historic Highlands Inn, where generations have rocked afternoons away on the Main Street porch, was built there in 1880 (and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.) By 1931, Highlands’ year-round population of 500 swelled to as many as 3,000 in the summer. Also in the 1930s the town became a golfing mecca when Bobby Jones of Atlanta and some of his well-heeled golfing buddies founded the Highlands Country Club.

Russell House, Chatooga SCThere was no railway service between Walhalla and Highlands. Nineteenth century travelers would have to ride horseback or via stagecoach on the Highlands Highway for two days to get to Highlands, 30 miles away. And waiting for them at the end of their first day’s ride, along the banks of the Chattooga River near the old Cherokee settlement of Tsatugi, sat the Russell farmstead and inn.

William Ganaway Russell (1835-1921) purchased the property in 1867 and built most of the buildings, including the main house. Family tradition says that Russell paid for the property with a fortune he made driving cattle to feed California gold miners.

The large house was gradually expanded to provide rooms for travelers. That frame two-story building, dating from the 1880s, expanded to include a projecting rear two-story ‘L’ added around 1890. A two-story front porch was also added later. The inn could accommodate as many as 80 people per night. In the early twentieth century numerous prominent Georgians and South Carolinians spent the night at the Russell’s, or shared meals there.

William Russell died in 1921 and his wife died in 1935, but the family continued to operate the establishment into the 1950s. In 1970, the federal government purchased the property. Although the main Russell house was burned by arson in 1988, enough of 28 outbuildings (barns, spring house, root cellar, etc.) remain to give a good idea of what a thriving working farm and stagecoach stop this once was.
Backroads of South Carolina, By Paul M. Franklin & Nancy Mikula, Voyageur Press, 2006


They weren’t too beaten down

Posted by | January 18, 2018


Sunday school picnic. Much of the food brought into abandoned mining town of Jere, West Virginia by “neighboring folk” from other parishes. There is a great deal of “hard feelings” and many fights between Catholics and Protestants. Miners as a whole are not very religious, many not having any connections with church, though they may have.
1938 Sept.

Marion Post Wolcott, FSA photographer

“My first assignments were very close to Washington. I think one of the first ones, if not the very first, was in the coal fields in West Virginia. That was a very short assignment, of course. And it was a very interesting one, too. I found the people not as apathetic as I had expected they might be. They weren’t too beaten down. Of course, many of them were but they were people with hope and some of them still had a little drive, although, of course, their health was so bad it was telling . . . .

“I think [all the FSA photographers] did have a social consciousness definitely, perhaps more than some people have but I think they were all — well, they were all interested in the plight of human beings and in the programs of the New Deal, and the remedial programs that the New Deal and the FSA were trying to do, I think that all these people had a lot of vigor and energy and were sensitive to their surroundings.

“[The Farm Security Administration] was one of the few places you could go where you felt that your pictures would be used and seen and that you could be honest in your reporting, whether with a camera or any other device. With your captioning you felt that any exhibits that they produced were definitely propaganda but you believed in them and you felt that they were honest, you wanted to slant them — if you would call it slanting it — or they were slanted, but so is any good program, an effective one.

“I never had worked in the field with handling both the captioning and the traveling and the sending back of the material, and not having my own darkroom. I wasn’t sure I’d like that, and the arrangement of sending the stuff back and having them develop and print it, this worried me a little bit, but it turned out very well because Roy [Stryker, Historical Section chief, Information Division, FSA] gave us a great deal of freedom in that respect.”

Interview with Marion Post Wolcott
Conducted by Richard Doud
at Artist’s Home in Mill Valley, California
January 18, 1965


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