Hellers or No-Hellers?

Posted by Dave Tabler | June 20, 2017

Nestled within a cluster of oaks and maples in Shady Valley, TN, the Stoney Creek Primitive Baptist Church meeting house is one of those traditional wood-framed worship structures that ole’ Baptists love so dearly—starkly simple, lap-joint sided, white, unadorned by steeples or Gothic-arched stained glass windows. Noticeably absent are any self-proclaiming billboard, marquee, or other bold advertisement of its denominational character, meeting times, and/or clerical personnel.

Stoney Creek Primitive Baptist Church in Carter County, Tennessee.

Stoney Creek Primitive Baptist Church in Carter County, Tennessee.

The association to which Stoney Creek belongs is the Regular Baptist Washington District Association, the No-Heller side of an older alliance of Baptist congregations that was established in 1811.

After 113 years of relative peace, this older Washington District family of churches fell into bitter doctrinal discord, which in 1924 split the No-Heller side from the Heller side, the latter also still extant and now proclaiming itself The Original Washington District Primitive Baptist Association.

The Heller side of this dispute was reported by Elihu J. Sutherland in his ‘Regular Primitive Baptist Washington District Association: A Short History,’ published in 1952 by that division of the association.

The arguments, as seen by the No-Heller side, must be pieced together from a number of hard-to-assemble sources, including annual association minutes; nevertheless, a reasonably complete view of No-Heller doctrine can be gained by reading Charles F. Nickels’ “Salvation of All Mankind; and Treatise on Predestination, the Resurrection of the Dead, and a Bequest,” published by its author in Nickelsville, VA, apparently in 1937.

The proper appellation for this No-Heller group is Primitive [also Primite] Baptist Universalism, PBU for short.

The central tenets of PBU theology can be compressed into the following doctrinal statements: (1) Christ’s atonement was for the sins of ALL humankind, past, present, and future, thus becoming just as unavoidable as were the stains of Adam’s original transgression; (2) hell does exist, but solely as a factor of the temporal world, with ALL sin being punished in this temporal world; (3) “Christ’s Church” was “elected” before the beginning of time, but the members of that “Church:”—the Primitive Baptist Universalists—possess no final advantage over the non-elect, since heaven will be for ALL and will be experienced in a totally egalitarian eternity; however, (4) throughout the temporal existence the “Elect” will serve as God’s witnesses and as the preservers of His earthly righteousness; (5) sin, punishment, death, and “Satan” are only present-world entities, ceasing to exist after temporal termination and the “Resurrection”; therefore, (6) there will be no hell in the afterlife.

Because Primite Baptist Universalists do believe in hell in the temporal world, they strongly reject the No-Heller label that others have given them. Nevertheless, it must be recognized immediately that all other Primitive Baptist groups simply do not accept the PBU faith as being Primitive, arguing that one essential feature of Primitive Baptist theology is some version of John Calvin’s limited atonement doctrine.

In Central Appalachia, there are four small associations of Primite Baptist Universalist: the Regular Primite Baptist Washington District Association, The Three Forks of Powell’s River Regular Primitive Baptist Association, and two Elkhorn Primitive Baptist Associations, this duplication in the latter being the consequence of an early 1980s split.

All told, there are only thirty-three PBU fellowships; and they are found primarily in a limited area of northeastern Tennessee, a six-county region of southwestern Virginia, the Colley (or Colly) Creed sector of Letcher County, Kentucky, and the McDowell County locale of southern West Virginia. Appalachian migrations into the Midwest have established three PBU fellowships in Ohio and one in Pennsylvania, but these are small struggling congregations that depend heavily upon support from PBU congregations in Central Appalachia.

Elder Jennings Short participating in Stoney Creek's footwashing service.

Elder Jennings Short participating in Stoney Creek’s footwashing service.

Stoney Creek is one of three Tennessee PBU churches. Holston Primite Baptist Church, an affiliate of the Three Forks Association, lies on the west side of Cherokee Lake in Grainger County; Hope Church, a member of the previously mentioned PBU Washington District Association, can be found in Washington County, just on the west side of Interstate 181 near Gray; and Stoney Creek Church is in Carter County.

Southwestern Virginia contains the heaviest concentration of PBU churches, with one or more fellowships existing in each of the following counties: Lee, Scott, Wise, Dickenson, Russell, Buchanan, and Tazewell. West Virginia has only two counties that contain a PBU church: McDowell and Greenbrier. Then, as previously mentioned, Letcher County, Kentucky, shelters only one such fellowship.

Stoney Creek Church in Carter County, TN, is often confused with the now defunct PBU Stony Creek (without the “e”) Church of Scott County, VA. Prior to 1949, this latter fellowship was affiliated with its namesake association, the Stony Creek Association, another small cluster of Primite Baptist congregations that joined the PBU movement after the 1924 split.

However, Stony Creek Association lasted only until the late 1940s before disintegrating over a dispute concerning natural-body versus spiritual-body resurrection. That shattered PBU association is now represented by only one church that lies near Bean Station in Grainger County, Tennessee.

Like Old Regular Baptist, Regular Baptist, Separate Baptist, United Baptist, and a host of even smaller Appalachian sub-denominations of this faith, Primitive Baptist Universalism is largely a Central Appalachian phenomenon, seldom found anywhere else, except as a consequence of the region’s various out migrations.

The PBU movement contributes yet another colorful square in the diverse patchwork quilt that Appalachian religion has become.

Condensed & edited from “Stoney Creek Primitive Baptist Church, Carter County, Tennessee: A ‘No-Heller’ Meetinghouse,” by Howard Dorgan, 1996
Online at www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~tnhawkin/Stoneycr.html

16 Responses

  • Hi,
    My family help start that church! it was also a stone church in the 1700s its been there longer than reported and is the second oldest church in Tennessee next to sinking creek baptist. I have the original church records were my 3rd Great grand parents Looney Blevins & Martha Garland signed over the land for the Church that was handed down from Samuel Garland my 6th great grand father you obtained the land from a revolutionary war grant. Looney and Martha helped swear the church into business the second time the doors were open in the 1800s.

    If you do a search on Primitive Baptist & Crypt-o Jews you will see where the church started. basically the Jewish people married into the Cherokee in the Appalachian mountains and used the Term “primitive Baptist ” to hide under. Those people later became know as the melungeons the primitive baptist church is the first place the word was uttered. This church may be found in the buludeen community on carter branch road basically Holston Mountain. I have deep roots surrounding the history of this church. The blevins men who married the garland women were from The Holston Long-hunters that were with Daniel Boone that discovered Tennessee in 1761 before the Wautaga settlement and William bean family. Hit me up on facebook and I will give you some info on this family line.

  • Lucas Shortt says:

    Jennings Shortt is my grandfather. He was one of the best men I knew and did his preaching not only in the stand but by the way he lived his life. I’m proud to say we are still singing old time hymns here in southwest VA and sticking to the old traditions. I learned a little history here. Thanks for the article.

  • Jeff Williams says:

    I am interested in learning more about the history of this area. My grandfather was Carlos Williams, his son Wendell, & his son Aaron were all preachers. I remember the name Jennings Short from my childhood too.

  • Janet Crain says:

    There are many references in the Bible about punishment in the after life.


  • Austin Greer says:

    Hi my name is Austin Greer. I’m from Chilhowie, Virginia, which is a small town in Smyth County. I am a Primitive Baptist but not a Primitive Baptist Universalist. I think it’s crazy that they think there’s no hell—it plainly tells us that there is a hell in the King James Bible.

  • Ed Speer says:

    Mr. Tabler:

    Stoney Creek Primitive Baptist Church is located in Stoney Creek Valley in Carter County, Tennessee. Shady Valley, located north of Stoney Creek, is located in Johnson County, Tennessee.

    Thanks for publishing this informative article.

    Ed Speer
    Sadie, Tennessee
    (Stoney Creek Valley)

  • Mike Campbell says:

    What a blessing to find this site! My father is the late Jerry Campbell. Dad was a Deacon at Hope Primitive Baptist {formerly the old Blue Springs Primitive Baptist Church} in Gray, TN.

    My father so loved the Ole Baptist way. I can remember as a child the miles he and I would travel to be with the sister churches and to be with and worship with them. How my soul does ache for the days of old and how close the sisters and brothers of the church were then. I can remember one time at the old Esserville Church outside of Norton, Va, when Elder Carlos Williams was called to open the Association Meeting. This would have been in the early 70’s. Elder Williams was blessed {as were all in attendance} and was lifted by the one and only Almighty God and called away. That day forever imprinted my young mind to the power of God and His presence among His people.

    As I watched the Holy Spirit within Elder Williams work I not only was blessed to watch God work in the congregation, but I too knew I would never be the same, and praise God for that glorious day. Oh the precious, precious memories I have of the Old Stoney Creek Church. I was blessed to have been a part of the early 70’s rehab of the dear, dear church. This rehab was truly a labor of love.

    I can still hear the melodious hymns from my youth. Nothing will ever compare to the Celtic sound of the ole Baptist hymns. This worship form is ancient and in my opinion the purest form of humble worship of my Lord and Master. I remember Elders—Stewart Owens, Kermit Hinkle, Roy McGlothlin, Jennings Short, Charlie Haynes, Quinton Looney, Wendell Williams, Carlos Williams, Landon Colley and many other men of God, all preaching from what God breathed through them and being called away in the Spirit of Truth!

    In my memories I can still see Elders: Sammy Nidefer, Presenell, Carl Campbell, Wallace Cooper, Harold Thornsbury; and Brothers: Mikey Garland, and D.C. Campbell. All of these brothers and sisters stand tall in my memories as giants. I remember the old sister saints: Molly Bowers, Hattie Blevins, Rose Hinkle, Ora Collins {my aunt}, Mossie Garland and Ettie Owens.

    If the entire world could experience the true and real love that is within this little congregation of churches, the current world problems would be a memory.

    Jeff, I and your father, along with your grand and great grandfathers, were close in the 70’s when Aaron, et al lived in Indiana. I would love to see your dad. If you would like to contact me, my email is dcr3500@gmail.com. I am blessed to have been directed to the site by the hand of the unseen Almighty God! Thank You God for filling my undeserved cup. I so look forward to the day that this world will be a distant memory and God’s Kingdom come!!!!!!

  • Mike Campbell says:

    I am in no way an authority concerning the Ole Baptist but I do have a fairly good firsthand knowledge of the church and its beliefs. I would be most blessed to have non-argumentative dialog with those that have a true love of the Ole Baptist. I will not indulge or entertain those with a spirit of arguing about the eternal location of hell.

  • Mike Campbell says:

    By the way, the photo above is probably mid 1980’s. Elder Jennings Short {Moderator of Flat Gap PBC in Pound, VA}, in humble obedience, is washing Brother D.C. Campbell’s feet as commanded by Jesus Christ, during what was commonly called “Communion Meeting”. These meetings were most often electric and God’s communion with His people was very powerful. Folks would linger at the church for hours after being dismissed. The feeling would be that of “Being called away”. What a time!!!!

  • Penny Karn says:

    I would love to attend a meeting at a PBU church. Does anyone have an address or any contact info for a PBU church that is still meeting??

  • Christopher Horn says:

    Penny, we hold PBU meetings every Sunday. If your truly interested send me an email at Christopher.horn27@outlook.com and I will find one that will be a reasonable distance from you to attend.

  • Christopher Horn says:

    That invitation goes for anyone.

  • Kathy says:

    I saw where Wallace Cooper was above mentioned. His wife Rosie was my cousin’s grandmother and I respectfully called him Grandpa Sally and her Grandma Rosie with the rest of their grandchildren even though I was not, they were very kind to me. I loved them. Rosie made the best Apple pies. Wallace sat beside me at my aunt’s funeral when I was a teenager and patted my hand. That meant the world to me.
    I was wondering if anyone has or could tell me where I could find information on the Elkhorn Churches. Those are the ones my ancestors belonged to and I would like to find out more about them. I don’t know if they were Hellers or No Hellers. I do know they kicked my grandma out when she was a young woman for believing in the gift of speaking in tongues. One was a preacher in the early days of the church his name was Mathias Lester maybe.

  • Jeff Williams says:

    Thank you, Mike. I traveled to church from Indiana many times with my dad and uncle Wendell as a little boy in the 70s. Precious memories.

  • JustAnOldGuy says:

    Well, Grandpa was a Baptist preacher and he would joke about the difference between Northern Baptists and Southern Baptists.

    The Northern Baptists say, “There ain’t no hell”. The Southern Baptists say, “The hell there ain’t”.

  • Delphia Lee says:

    Recently while cleaning out old files and family papers, I found copies of Minutes of the Original Mates Creek Regular Primitive Baptist Association organized in 1849, held with Raccoon Church, Raccoon, Pike County KY. They were dated 1967, 1973 and 1977. Anyway, I offered them on fb as I am 78 yrs old and had kept them long enough. Immediately there were several requests so they were given to a young lady from my late father’s hometown church, Sulphur Springs, Kelsa VA. One copy, dated 1973 contained Constitution, Articles Of Faith and Rules Of Decorum, as well as the Circular Letter concerning No Absolute Predestination of Both Good and Evil. My grandfather, Alec McClanahan attended at Big Rock VA in the 1940’s-50’s. where we lived during my childhood. A favorite memory is helping Mom cook a big dinner for his visiting church brothers and sisters

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The spiritualistic singing of the colored people worked over into the white hillbilly

Posted by Dave Tabler | June 19, 2017

“There were only four kinds of country music. One is your gospel songs, your religious songs. The others were your jigs and reels, like we spoke of a while ago at fiddler’s conventions. Your third were your heart songs, sentimental songs that came from the heart, and the fourth, which has passed out to a degree today and was terrific in those days, were the event songs.

“Now would you like to ask me what I mean by an event song? An event song is something that had happened, not today, but maybe years ago, but hadn’t permeated through the South because of a lack of newspapers and no radio and no television in those days, but they had heard of it. For instance, some of the biggest sellers we were able to bring out was things like Sinking of the Titanic.

Willy Stöwer, 'The Sinking of The Titanic', 1912.  Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Willy Stöwer, ‘The Sinking of The Titanic’, 1912. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


“Bring out a record years after it happened and tell a story with a moral. The Sinking of the Titanic was a big seller, but there was a little bit of a moral that people shouldn’t believe that they could build a ship that couldn’t be sunk.

“That’s the way they talked about it; of thinking God took it upon Himself to show them that they couldn’t build anything greater than He could.

“Everything had a moral in the events songs. Well, for instance, things that have been made into a motion picture since – do you remember the story of the famous Scopes Trial? (ed: later a movie with Spencer Tracy, ‘Inherit the Wind’). Well who would think of making a phonograph record about that? He said man descended from the ape. Maybe he did. Lots of people think so, but the country person didn’t believe that at all.

“So we made a record. We sold 60,000 of them on the steps of the courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee – just during that tremendous trial. That shows the interest of the people in hearing somebody else recount an event, because remember, there were thousands of buyers of phonograph records that had no other means of communication.

“You had sad ones, the stories of Jesse James and all kinds of bandits and convicts and everything you could think of. Yes, and a murder here and there.

“Naomi Wise is a story of a little girl who lived. Marion Parker was married unfortunately, in Atlanta. But there was always a moral so what was done wrong should not be done by the person who was listening. It did a tremendous amount of good; I can’t emphasize that too much.

“Down through the Southwest, there was the story of Kenny Wagner (ed: also known as Kinnie Wagner). Kenny was a bandit but he was a clever bandit. He had the habit of committing a crime, getting caught, being put in jail, and getting out. He seemed to be able to master every jail that he was ever in.

“Well, it was all very good for us from the record standpoint. We could have a record telling of the capture of Kenny Wagner, and then a record of the escape of Kenny Wagner.

“We went on through his life through a series of escapes, and then came the time that Kenny was finally caught and shot, not accidentally but on purpose, and that was the end of it. So how were we to end up this series of the wonderful selling records we had? We brought out the finale. We called it The Fate of Kenny Wagner. And again there was a moral at the end of it.

“North Carolina and Tennessee had a different type [of songs] than Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama and so forth. Your North Carolina and through Virginia were based on the English folk songs, most of them.

“Where down below in Florida and in Georgia throughout the South they get a little of Negroid, you know. It gets to be a mixture and there is a very good reason for it because in those days in the outskirts of a city like Atlanta, you had your colored section full of colored people and you had your white, I am sorry to use the word but they used to call them “white trash,” but they were very close to each other.

“They would pass each other every day. And a little of the spiritualistic singing of the colored people worked over into the white hillbilly and a little of the white hillbilly worked over into what the colored people did, so you got a little combination of the two things there. But they were very easily distinguished, you could tell them.”


Excerpt from a Mike Seeger interview with Frank Walker on June 19, 1962. Frank Buckley Walker (1889–1963) was the Artist and Repertoire (A & R) talent scout for Columbia Records’ Country Music Division during the 1920s and 1930s. Along with Ralph Peer of Victor Records, Walker mastered the technique of field recordings. Specializing in southern roots music, Walker set up remote recording studios in cities such as Atlanta, New Orleans, Memphis, Dallas, Little Rock and Johnson City.

Source: American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, AFC 1995/004: Mike Seeger Collection

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D. Y. might carry his burden too, but he does it debonairly

Posted by Dave Tabler | June 16, 2017

“As one alights from the train at Hazard and gallant Captain Bocook the conductor waves an ‘adieu’ with a smile thrown in for usury, the first word heard above the bustle and din is ‘D-Y,’ ‘D-Y,’ ‘D-Y,’ and that stands for the most popular, best known, most influential, wealthiest and most progressive man in Hazard or Perry County or perhaps Eastern Kentucky; it stands for David Yancey Combs, prince of landlords, liverymen, big general merchant, real estate dealer, land owner, coal mine operator and then some.

“All day long and sometimes all night long ‘D-Y,’ ‘D-Y,’ ‘D-Y,’ is iterated and reiterated, for everybody including the children know and like D. Y. Combs, whose popularity would put him into Congress if he’d say the word.

“So busy is he, and so engaged in conversation with here and there little coteries, that I found it difficult to get a line on him for a little sketch and it was only after I found his aid de camp, Hon. Andrew Jackson Conyers, that I found some data for this brief biography of a man so prominent and so careless of the fame I have to thrust upon him.

“David Yancey Combs was born – of course – had to be born somewhere – fifty years ago at the mouth of Carr’s Fork of the famous Combs lineage – was born a Democrat, and despite the fact that Perry County is overwhelmingly Republican, D. Y. was twice elected Sheriff; and by saving grace of his Rabelaisian humor preserved the best of order, but he cared nothing for official life and today all of his great love is centered in a little midget – Little Mary his granddaughter, aged about three, while Mrs. Combs, or “Ma” as even the boarders call her fondly, divides her affection between Little Mary and Beryl, aged about five years, the boy; and “in him is the abridgment of all that is pleasant in man,” to quote from Thos. Hood.

“D. Y. is a money maker–possesses the Midas touch–and there is not a corpuscle of the miserly in his two hundred pounds of superb mountain manhood, but upon the contrary he is the soul of generosity and hides his charity while dispensing it in many ways, not letting his left “fist” know what his fine right hand doeth.

Hazard, KY Main Street in 1913Hazard, KY Main Street in 1913, showing Lexington Boosters arriving. D.Y. Combs Hotel is the building with the white door, to the far left of the photo.

“For many years having been extensively engaged in lumber and timber and logging he became known far and wide, and when D. Y. drops into Lexington or Louisville, he can’t transact any business till the glad hand and the jest and the news and little social amenities are rushed through.

“While D. Y. is all we have mentioned he is prouder of his farming operations than all else and he raises stock of all kinds, and b’gosh he loves a hoss.

“Having leased his fields of the best coal to large coal operators, it is believed that everybody’s D. Y. is destined to be in the near future one of the richest men in these rich fields, but nobody believes that he will dress in purple and fine linen and fare sumptuously every day, for D. Y. doesn’t care a snap for all that sort of thing, being as plain and simple as the proverbial old shoe.

“Six feet, commanding, active, filled with health, and everyone at once becomes en rapport with him. Dark and tanned and swarthy, with shining jowls and merry dark eyes sparkling, a voice winning in strength and music, dark hair close cropped, clean shaven, with here a jest, there a bow to some of the reclusive set, then a magnetic touch of his index finger under the dimpled chin of a blushing or laughing sweet sixteen, this man of magnetism makes his rounds scattering joy and fun and sunshine.

“In moments of repose there is an interesting touch or suggestion of melancholy; a momentary reminiscence or a faint adumbration that D. Y. might carry his burden too, but he does it debonairly and masterfully.

“Once in a conversation when he was off his guard and didn’t know that I was a newspaper man, he said that a new enterprise which I had mentioned, he was not asked to take stock and to my surprise he said rather low: “I’ve got a little bunch of enemies.” I was astonished and now that I know him still better it causes me not only surprise but wonder. What boots it a little bunch of enemies when compared to the friendship of children?”

—from “The story of Hazard, Ky. – The pearl of the mountains,’ by Louis Pilcher, Citizens Print. Co., 1913
online at www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kyperry3/Pearl_ofthe_Mountains.html

Louis Pilcher had a long and varied career as a newspaperman behind him by the time he wrote ‘Pearl of the Mountains.’ Here’s a short bio on his earlier years from ‘A history of Jessamine County, Kentucky: from its earliest settlement to 1898,’ by Bennett Henderson Young:

‘The Nicholasville Democrat,’ an eight column folio, was established in June 1888. At that time it was the property of Louis Pilcher, the present editor and proprietor, and his brother Thomas Fielding Pilcher. After a short time a job printing plant was established. For eight years its office was in the old historic building, erected by Judge Wake Thomas F Pilcher and his brother. Louis Pilcher assumed the management of the paper.

The former assisted in establishing the ‘Lexington Argonaut.’ He did his first newspaper work on the ‘Lyceum Debater,’ afterward on the ‘Central Courier,’ and was for five years the correspondent of the Cincinnati and Louisville dailies.

He was one of the promoters of the ‘Lexington Advertiser.’ Later he edited the ‘Nicholasville Star.’ In 1895 he established ‘The Coming Nation,’ which absorbed the ‘Illustrated Kentuckian,’ and these two were merged into the ‘Argonaut.’

He afterward founded the ‘Blue Grass World’ and then returned to his present position as editor and proprietor of the ‘Nicholasville Democrat.’

Mr. Pilcher has had a wide experience as a newspaper man. In the Cleveland campaign he did work on the ‘Louisville Courier Journal,’ paragraphing and producing comic articles with Donald Padman. He was horn in Nicholasville on July 11, 1855 opposite where the newspaper office now stands.

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How Carnival Games Cheat Customers

Posted by Dave Tabler | June 15, 2017

By Sam Brown
Modern Mechanix
June 1930 issue

Did you ever wonder why you came home from the carnival empty handed? Remember how you tried to ring the bell by hammering the catapult or how you tossed ring after ring trying to win a cane? Swindled? Well, maybe! Read how the operators gimmick their games so that you can’t win. It may save you money or help you win.

CARNIVALS carry with them many devices which are absolutely guaranteed to flatten the pocketbook. There are a score of games—all fixed so that the operator has them under control at all times—all sure things, but not for the benefit of the public.

Perhaps the best known is the paddle wheel. These are often played on the square, the operator depending on getting a full play at ten cents each, and then awarding a cheap prize. All wheels, however, can be altered instantly in order to increase the percentage for the owner. This is usually done by friction. The paddle wheel is controlled by a wire rod which runs up to the hub of the wheel.

Carny barker at workBy pressing a hidden lever, the operator can cause the rod to press against the hub, and thereby stop the wheel on a non-winning number. Technically, these outfits are known as squeeze spindles; and when operated so that every other number calls for a worthless prize they are known as slum spindles. There are many variations of the game. Occasionally it is a simple cardboard table spindle so that its very crudeness seems to warrant its innocence from guile—but—in every case, you will find the hidden lever.

Ever play the bucket game? The idea is to throw balls into the bucket in so many attempts. Try and do it! Every bucket has a turn screw on the bottom, adjusted so that it will positively throw out the ball with which the game is played. Of course, the capper is allowed to win and occasionally the operator gets generous enough to allow some outside person a fair chance of “winning.

There are many varieties of this swindle. One uses but a single bucket mounted in the center of a closely-woven net. The tautness of the net makes it impossible to pocket the ball. In another type the bottoms are hinged so that they can be deflected upwards and downwards. With the bottoms flat, the player has no chance whatsoever, but by pressing a lever, the barker can deflect the bottoms slightly, causing the ball to strike the inside on the rebound and then stay put.

Another game gimmicked is the hoop toss. In this, the prizes are mounted on square pedestals. The player is furnished with wooden rings somewhat like crochet hoops, and with these he attempts to win by completely ringing the pedestal. Of course, he has no trouble in eventually winning one of the slum prizes, but it is next to impossible to ring any of the more pretentious gifts. The reason is simple. The rings are slightly elliptic in shape, so that their smaller diameter is just the least bit lacking. The operator pressing the ring to a more rounded fullness between his thumb and fingers, easily slips it over the prize in question.

Source: http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2008/03/25/how-carnival-games-cheat-customers

carnival+games Modern+Mechanix appalachia appalachian+mountains+history appalachian+history

3 Responses

  • William says:

    I really enjoyed this…I may be broke from these games but at least I understand why! Great insight. There is one I’ve always wondered about…the knock down cat game…have any scoop on that? (Pardon pun) It’s my nemesis!

  • Marilynn Hession says:

    My sister and I won about 6 goldfish once at a carnival that was near our house! They were in those little bowls and it was 25 cents for 3 tries. We had to run back home to get more change but they’d figured out why we were doing so good: they’d moved the bowls further apart and we were no longer able to ring any bowls!

  • Robert Wayne says:

    That’s why I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even play those carnival games. It’s just a waste of money. I told one of those barkers that the games were just a ripoff at a Matt Armstrong carnival in Louisiana and the goon told me to come in back of the tent and say that and he pulled a knife on me. I got back on the other side of the canvas and realized that not only were these creeps ripoff thieves, they have a chip on their collective shoulders too.

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Telegraphy Shortcuts

Posted by Dave Tabler | June 14, 2017

When timber and coal camps started springing up throughout Appalachia in the late 19th century, they provided work for surveyors, lawyers, engineers, doctors, dentists, mechanics, railway workers, postal employees, and telegraph operators.

The telegraph offered employment to anyone who could master the technology, regardless of background. There was even a hierarchy of status, as operators moved from small, rural locations (with less traffic) to large, central offices (which had huge traffic). Telegraph operators were paid well and felt themselves part of an honored profession. It was a good way to make a living for a lot of people.

Kentucky telegrapher, WW I era

This photo from the University of Kentucky’s Nollau Collection is undated, but resides in a file labeled ‘Military Women, WWI.’ Location not specified.

However, many telegraph operators who used the key for long periods of time developed a debilitating problem, which they called “glass arm.” Today the same type of problem has a kinder name — “Repetitive Motion Disorder,” or RMD.

“The Anglo-American Telegraphic Code,” a shorthand phrasebook for telegraphers, was  published in 1891. It helped telegraphers avoid RMD by spending less time sitting at the key, but it also helped them send faster, which meant they earned more money, since telegraphers were generally paid by the word.

The book’s preface explained: “In this era of reduced postal and telegraphic rates, concessions to the important principles of economy and expedition in the means of communication by mail and telegraph, the publication of the Anglo- American Code meets an urgent demand.

“It is the outgrowth from what, at first, consisted of various special codes, adapted to special businesses, which were quite limited in scope, and later, of more general codes of wider scope. At last a demand comes for one which will embrace all subjects of correspondence, and this work is designed to meet it.

“The expense and publicity entailed in the use of the telegraph are recognized as serious obstacles. This work will cause a great diminution of these, in many cases practically eliminating them. Embracing as it does, social and domestic, as well as business and miscellaneous subjects, a large proportion of correspondence which is now conducted through the mails, can, through its medium, at slight expense, be conducted, confidentially and quickly, by telegraph.

“Its use will also be recognized as an important means of confidential communication not only in telegrams but also in letters and postal cards.

“This system will be found to be a novel one to the greater part of the public, but it is believed that its usefulness and importance will be promptly recognized while its simplicity makes it available for every one.”

The Anglo-American Code Book, as might be expected for a business guide of its era, was heavy on code phrases for various railroads running throughout the region. Very often the codes are nonsensical words, such as “renavigor,” standing for the “Mariette & North Georgia” railroad.

Other times we can imagine the code’s authors having their fun as they worked away on their manuscript; the code “boastful” stands for the “Western Maryland” railroad, and the code “banjo” for the “Ohio & Mississippi, preferred stock.”

The Anglo-American code book also has plenty of codes for commercial agricultural products.  Why on earth did its authors come up with the code of “bondwoman’ to represent the “common North Carolina sun dried apple”?

Not all 470 pages of the book are this entertaining, but there are chuckles aplenty for the patient reader willing to dig for its hidden gems.

source:  The Anglo-American telegraphic code to cheapen telegraphy, by American Code and Cypher Company, 1891, Benjamin H Tyrrel, NYC


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