The campaign for president between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams in 1828 was one of the most bitter in American history. Mudslinging was brought to a low art form.
It was a rematch of the 1824 election when Old Hickory won a majority of both the popular and electoral vote but other candidates got enough votes to send it to the House of Representatives. Henry Clay, the Speaker of the House, pushed the election in favor of John Quincy Adams. When Adams tabbed Clay as the new Secretary of State a few days later Jackson and others cried “foul,” calling it corrupt. Many say this was a watershed moment in the founding of the Democratic party.
When I interviewed Jewell Lewis Ross and Earl Lewis in 1991 it brought back vivid memories to them of the Fourmile Mine disaster that occurred the day after Christmas in 1945. They were the children of W. E. Lewis, the owner of the mine at Fourmile.
The senior Lewis was also the son of a miner, Joe Carl Lewis of Campbell County, Tennessee, who was killed in a gunpowder explosion in 1911 at an earlier mine in Fourmile Hollow.
The mine at Fourmile was sealed and rescue attempts stopped because of deadly fire and gases in the Bell County, KY, mine after explosions on December 26, 1945. Responding to United Mine Workers Association pressure, public indignation and protests, authorities decided to unseal the Fourmile mine in August of 1948.
Teams of rescuers worked around the clock in five hour shifts to save trapped miners after explosions at a Fourmile, Kentucky mine on the day after Christmas in 1945. The initial explosion was heard to those in the area outside the mine as a great THUMP and was followed by a large smoke ring rising into the sky.
The bodies of Hobert Sulfridge, age 44, and mine foreman Nathan Centers, age 62, were found and removed from the mine along with two other unidentified corpses, tremendously mangled. One of the Continue reading Disaster at Fourmile, Part 5→
Eight miners survived the Fourmile mine disaster after explosions rocked the Bell County, KY, mine on December 26, 1945. One died hours later in the Pineville Hospital.
Rescuers bravely traversed the deadly conditions of the mine, the walls blistering hot from the fires. They contended with a series of explosions, flames and carbon monoxide gas. They found four charred bodies two of which evidenced the violent explosion and fires, bringing heartache to any observers. Conditions prevented the rescue crews from continuing. Continue reading The Fourmile Mine Disaster, Part 4→
Underground explosions left 31 miners trapped in a Fourmile, KY coalmine, two miles underground, on December 26, 1945. Fourmile is in the extreme southeastern section of Kentucky, a beautiful, mountainous and historical area.
The conditions were hazardous but mine rescue teams from the local area and from nearby states worked feverishly in special attire and masks to protect them from the harsh gases and smoke. When one team of rescuers ended their 5-hour shift another fresh group entered, making their way to the innards of the mine. This continued Continue reading The Fourmile Mine Disaster Part 3→
Disaster struck the Kentucky Straight Creek Mining Company at Fourmile, KY, on the day after Christmas in 1945. Some nearby residents felt a vibration and thought right away that something might be wrong at the mine.
The first white settlers in our area found one vast virgin forest. Giant trees stood throughout – white oaks, black walnut, yellow poplar, chestnuts, buckeye, ash, maple and others.
The settlers had to remove sections of timber so they could farm. Naturally some of the wood was used to build their cabins and some was used for fuel.
Many trees were cut for the smelting of iron ore at Cumberland Gap and the trees that were left near the famous gap were cut down during the Civil War so sentries could watch a broader area. It also prevented the enemy from using trees for protection while advancing. Continue reading Log-rafting to market, Occupation of old→
Col. Solomon Sharp was a leader in Kentucky politics in the early 1820’s. He served as a state representative, U.S. Congressman and Attorney General. Upon meeting Ann Cook at a function he was taken aback by her beauty. Her physical qualities and charm commanded the attention of nearly every man who saw her in Frankfort, KY, in the early 1820’s.
Col. Sharp’s power and wealth allowed him to literally sweep the lithesome miss off her feet and into her boudoir. After some time he moved along with his life disavowing any promise or involvement with the heartbroken Miss Cook. Continue reading Ann Cook’s honor→
Many hangings in the era of public executions were in the open air for all to see but some jurisdictions had closed hangings where the scaffold was built inside of an enclosure, building or large box. The hanging of George Gibson and Wayne Powers was of the latter variety.
There were approximately seventy-five individuals in the building on February 6, 1885, including Sheriff Strong, Deputy Cowden, Jailer Beverly, Rev. Walker, Rev. Pannell, Rev. Bellamy, Doctor Morrison, Doctor Patton, additional guards and members of the Gibson and Powers families. Continue reading Not my brother’s keeper (conclusion)→
An estimated three thousand people were in Estillville, Virginia, on February 6, 1885, for the hanging of George Gibson and Wayne Powers. The two men were sentenced to hang for the murder of Will Gibson. Jonas Powers, brother of Wayne Powers, was also sentenced to hang for the murder but his attorneys were successful in winning him a thirty day stay of execution from Virginia Gov. William E. Cameron so he remained in the Scott County jail.
George Gibson and brothers Wayne and Jonas Powers were found guilty of first degree murder in the death of William Gibson in 1884. Both of them shot William Gibson before George stabbed him, taking his life.
After Judge John A. Kelly sentenced the three to hang Virginia Governor William E. Cameron granted Jonas a stay of execution for a month. It was said Jonas left the group before they purchased the liquor and began drinking. There was an ongoing quarrel between William Gibson and Wayne Powers and it escalated after they became intoxicated. It would soon lead to the murder. Continue reading Not My Brother’s Keeper, part 3→
Jonas Powers was the first to be put on trial for the murder of William Gibson. It was during the August 1884 term of the Scott County, Virginia, circuit court in the extreme southwestern Virginia. Judge Kelly presided over the trial that lasted several days. The jury deliberated for approximately 24 hours but failed to agree on a decision and the members were discharged. The cases of George Gibson and Wayne Powers were continued to the November term. Continue reading Not My Brother’s Keeper, part 2→
The marriage of Spencer and Sally Gibson ended in the 1860’s with Sally eventually finding her way to Missouri and Spencer to Alabama. The three children, two boys and a girl, lived with different relatives. The younger two, George and Eliza, lost touch with William, their older brother.
On February 15, 1884, George Gibson left Scott County, Virginia, along with two Powers bothers, Wayne and Jonas, and Joseph Meade. They were bound for West Virginia where they sought employment and a place to settle. Continue reading Not my brother’s keeper→
Daniel Boone contributed a great deal to Kentucky’s early development while becoming an American hero more than 200 years ago. He became a very prominent American at a comparatively young age although he was not aware of it. Boone always remained a simple, quiet, trustful, generous and unsophisticated person.
Many highways, parks, schools, streams, counties, towns and individuals have been named after him. His likeness has been the subject of many paintings and statues. The statue on the Eastern Kentucky University campus in Richmond, is perhaps the best. An exact duplicate of the statue rests in Cherokee Park in Louisville, KY. Continue reading We’re in the heart of Daniel Boone country→
The family of Samuel Davies resided in what is now Lincoln County, Kentucky in 1782. An Indian attacked him by surprise while he was working in the field. He got the better of the encounter and then raced to his cabin to make sure all was well.
As he neared the family dwelling something led him to be cautious. He concealed himself in a nearby field and soon learned that his wife and kids were in danger. There were several Indians in and around the cabin. Davies knew he couldn’t control the situation so he ran five miles to the station of his brother, James Davies, for help. One of the Indians who was somewhat older noticed him and gave chase but Davies had the greater incentive. The Indian stopped and returned to tell his fellow tribesmen. Continue reading Pioneer story with unhappy ending→