Jean Paxton Morrow by Libby Fraas

This collection began with the Kentucky Oral History Commission’s effort to establish oral history programs in each of the state’s 120 counties. County libraries worked with local volunteers to collect interviews. Since 1987, county oral histories have been generated primarily by recipients of technical assistance grants from the commission that provide training and equipment to volunteer interviewers. Interviews donated by independent researchers are also included. Original collection held at Kentucky Oral History Commission/Kentucky Historical Society Access copies available at Lincoln County Public Library. Authorization must by granted by KHS to use or publish by any means the archival material to which the Society holds copyright.




June 19, 1978 

Ms. Fraas: The following is an unrehearsed interview with Mrs. Clayton Morrow by Libby Fraas with the Kentucky Oral History Commission.  The interview was conducted at Mrs. Morrow’s home in Stanford, Kentucky on June 19, 1978, at approximately five o’clock in the afternoon. 

Tape goes off, then back on 

Ms. Fraas: Could you tell me who Miss Esther Whitley Burch is or was? 

Mrs. Morrow: Miss Esther Whitley Burch did many things for Stanford and the whole county.  Miss Esther Whitley Burch was born in 1876 and died in 1953.  She was raised in Lincoln County, the daughter of Mr. Steven Burch and Mrs. Dehlia (sic) Allison Burch.  She belonged to one of Kentucky’s pioneer families, and was a direct descendent of William Whitley, the famous Indian fighter.  She graduated from the Stanford Female College and the Anderson School of Oratory in Boston, Massachusetts.  She was a lifelong member of the Stanford Presbyterian Church.  She was the organizing regent of the Logan Whitley chapter of the Daughters’ of the American Revolution.  She was an outstanding civic leader of Lincoln County.  She was foremost in promoting cultural activities for our town and county.  Miss Burch wrote and directed the pageant telling the history of Lincoln County.  She was one of the first people to use local talent to produce Shakespearean plays.  She organized the Stanford Women’s Club and the Sub-Deb Club and was paramount in organizing the library.  She was gentle and understanding.  Her cultural influence is still felt in the community. Her life touched many lives and all were enriched by knowing her.  We would cherish her memory and profit by her life’s example. 

Ms. Fraas: She was a fine lady, then, of Lincoln County. 

Mrs. Morrow: That’s right. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes); how long did she live in Lincoln County; all her life? 

Mrs. Morrow: Born and raised in Lincoln County. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Morrow: When she died, she lived right across the street, in that yellow house. 

Ms. Fraas: You were a good friend of hers?  Uh huh (yes)? 

Mrs. Morrow: (inaudible). 

Tape goes off, then back on 

Ms. Fraas: Lincoln County is noted for some of the fine lawyers it has produced.  Could you tell me a little bit about the Lincoln County Bar Association and some of its members? 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes, Lincoln County has always been noted for its wonderful Bar Association.  Many years ago, four of the most noted ones were Judge Saufley, Judge Alcorn, Colonel Welch and Colonel T.P. Hill.  My father, Mr. J.B. Paxton, was much younger and read law in Colonel Hill’s office.  He told many funny stories about Colonel Hill.  He said the Colonel could sway any jury.  And, one time, an old man, we’ll call Mr. John Doe, had been cheated out of his farm, and Colonel Hill represented him and got the farm back.  When the case was over, the old man was out in the lobby of the courthouse crying his heart out.  When he was asked why he was crying, since he had gotten his farm back, he said, “I had no idea how bad I had been treated ’til I heard Ted (sic) Hill tell it” (sic).  My father, Mr. J.B. Paxton, was considered a walking encyclopedia.  One day, one of his admiring clients, had lost their house, had it sold out from under them, and called father that night.  He was all also president of the Lincoln County National Bank, and he naturally thought she wanted money…was afraid that she wanted to borrow money from him or from the bank.  When he answered, she said, Mr. Paxton, please tell me the seven wonders of the world…I can’t think of but six.  (laughs) 

Ms. Fraas: (laughs) 

Tape goes off, then back on 

Ms. Fraas: The funny story you tell about a meeting of the Daughters’ of the American Revolution, would you tell me that? 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes, it was really one of the funniest things that ever happened.   

Mrs. John Bradshaw was entertaining the DAR at her home one day, and Mrs. Lucille Cooper came in with a hat on and a feather that was way too tall, and all during the program, I looked at the feather and thought if I just had a pair of scissors, I’d cut it down even with the brim.  So, when Elizabeth got ready to serve, she turned out the lights and had candles on the table, serving buffet style.  And, when Lucille got over to serve herself, she caught the feather on fire, and burned it down to where I planned to cut it.  And, the whole house smelled like chicken feathers.  It was really so funny, we just broke up the meeting. 

Ms. Fraas: (Laughing) 

Mrs. Morrow: And, Elizabeth had to go out and lean against a tree just to laugh.  And, really, we relaxed ourselves after this happened. 

Tape goes off, then back on 

Ms. Fraas: Would you tell me something about the Stanford female college? 

Mrs. Morrow: Well, the Stanford female college was established February 10, 1798.  And, it was sold to the public school system in 1910.  My father, Mr. J.B. Paxton, was one of the trustees…law trustees.  And, the teachers…some of the teachers were Mr. Hardin Craig, James Denny (sic), Edna Rogers, Miss Maggie and Miss Betty Paxton, both of my aunts.  And, they…it was located now…it was located where the Morgan and Fox Funeral Home now is.  And, the part on the right, as you go to town, was the boarding school, where the boarders lived, and the other part was for the education.  Two of the most…I went there my first year…they had everything from the first grade on to the senior in college.  And, there was Annie VanArsdale Craig and Jessie Hocker (sic) and I were in first grade.  And, our teacher was Mrs. Bob Gaines…she was then Miss Sally McCordle.  And, two of the most brilliant students there, were Pauline Hocker, who was later a Mrs. Foster, and Margaret Hocker, who is now Mrs. Kelly Francis, who is still living.  And, my aunt, Miss Maggie Paxton called Pauline down one day…Pauline was just a mere child, for talking, and Pauline said, oh, please excuse me for being so indiscrete as to become hilarious.  The girls were raised by their grandmother.  And, they used to tell…laugh and tell this on them, that they were just so far ahead of any of the boys in education, that when they had dates, the boys planned ahead of time what to talk about.  And, one night, two of them went out, double dating and the boys decided before they left that they would discuss Scott’s Water. And, they started on Scott’s and Pauline asked them, how they liked Scott’s Emulsion, and the boys both agreed that they like that better than any of the other waters.  But, they taught everything at the college.  It was really quite a place.  And, the trustees and parents and all gave it up with regret in 1910 when the children had to go to the public schools. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes).  The college was just for young women then? 

Mrs. Morrow: Stanford male and female. 

Ms. Fraas: Oh, I see. 

Mrs. Morrow: Stanford male and female. 

Ms. Fraas: What kind of subjects did a young woman study there? 

Mrs. Morrow: Well, they took art and music and all the classics; Latin and French, you know, just like in any other college. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Morrow: They had wonderful teachers. 

Ms. Fraas: What were some of the authors that you studied there; some of the writers? 

Mrs. Morrow: You mean the students? 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Morrow: Well, the classics. 

Tape goes off, then back on. 

Ms. Fraas: Where were you born? 

Mrs. Morrow: I was born and raised in Stanford. 

Ms. Fraas: And, your parents were…. 

Mrs. Morrow: Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Briggs Paxton.  I was Jean Robinson Paxton. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you have any brothers and sisters? 

Mrs. Morrow: My brother, James Paxton, died in 1929.  My sister, Josephine Paxton died in 1902 as a very small child. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes).  You went to school, then…. 

Mrs. Morrow: I attended Avery-Scott (sic) College the first…I graduated from Stanford High School and attended Avery-Scott College of Decator, Georgia, and then completed at Transylvania College in Lexington, Kentucky. 

Ms. Fraas: What was Transylvania College like?  Did you enjoy it there? 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes, I liked it very much.  I belonged to the Chi Omega Sorority.  I liked it so much.  Awful nice school. 

Ms. Fraas: What did you major in at Transylvania? 

Mrs. Morrow: English 

Ms. Fraas: Were you finding a profession when you went to college, or…. 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes, I taught two years in Wilmington, North Carolina. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes).  Uh…. 

Mrs. Morrow: And, I married in nineteen hundred…I married Clayton Morrow in 1937.    

Ms. Fraas: As a young girl growing up in Stanford, did you make any trips?  Were there any places around here to visit? 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes, I went quite frequently anywhere that I had a chance to go seemed like.  I went to New York and different places. 

Ms. Fraas: What about in Kentucky?  Were there any resort places that you visited, either on a school trip or else with your family? 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes, western Kentucky and eastern Kentucky, Mammoth Cave and all around; Gatlinburg, Tennessee, of course it was the playground of the south.  We went there a lot. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes); how did you travel; by car? 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes, in the car a lot and then on the bus, maybe, a sightseeing bus, we’d go, and train. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes); do you remember the first car your family had? 

Mrs. Morrow: The first car I ever rode in, I was visiting my grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. A.C. Robinson in Lancaster, and my grandmother said Dr. Kinnard…Dr. James Kinnard in Lancaster had the first automobile and I can hear her now…my cousin was with me…she said I’m going to call Jim Kinnard and tell him he’s got to come up here and take these children for a ride.  So, we sat on the porch three hours waiting for him.  When he finally came, when we got in, he must have gone about five miles an hour, we were so scared, we had clutched each other the whole way until we got back.  But, I never will forget my first automobile ride. 

Ms. Fraas: (laughing) 

Mrs. Morrow: And, I think the first person in Stanford that had a car was Hubert Carpenter.  He was an agent in the Essex Agency. 

Ms. Fraas: What was the Essex Agency? 

Mrs. Morrow: Essex…. 

Ms. Fraas: What was that? 

Mrs. Morrow: Hubert Carpenter. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes); what was the Essex Agency? 

Mrs. Morrow: Well, he was selling them, you know; selling the Essex cars. 

Ms. Fraas: Oh, the cars, okay. 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes. 

Ms. Fraas: What were the roads like back then?  Did you go to Lexington much? 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes, the roads…. 

Ms. Fraas: What was the road like? 

Mrs. Morrow: Well, we used to come back and forth on the train when it would come on the weekends, you know.  But, the roads were certainly not like they are now. 

Ms. Fraas: (laughing) 

Mrs. Morrow: I remember the first time coming from North Carolina in the car, it was just like going around the world, you know, it was so different from now. 

Tape goes off, then back on 

Ms. Fraas: You said you married in 1937, was that it? 

Mrs. Morrow: Uh huh (yes). 

Ms. Fraas: And, did you have any children? 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes, we have twin daughters, Mary Jo and Jane Clayton, and they both teach in Lexington.  Mary Jo teaches at Picadome and Jane Clayton at Deep Springs.  

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Tape goes off, and then back on 

Ms. Fraas: ….as a well-known attorney here in Lincoln County, do you recall any particular cases that either he was involved in, or that you remember here in Lincoln County? 

Mrs. Morrow: Well, I remember so many.  Father was not a criminal lawyer, but he was just a wonderful lawyer.  It was said he could file a suit on a postage stamp, he expressed himself so well, you know and all.  And, I remember a case that was brought there from the mountains that caused so much excitement.  We all enjoyed it so…they had a hung jury.  And, we gave the summer off to go…it was…one family was Colley’s (sic), they were cousins, and it caused quite a stir in Brodhead to get an impartial hearing, you know. 

Ms. Fraas: And, it lasted all summer? 

Mrs. Morrow: It lasted a good two months, after having a hung jury, you know. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you go down and watch the hearings? 

Mrs. Morrow: Practically every day.  We just had regular seats.  We used to take our lunch, we were so afraid that if we’d leave, we wouldn’t get a good seat.  And Mr. Honorable Kelly Frances was such a good lawyer.  His son, Cabell is practicing now, and his grandson, Cabell, Jr., they are both practicing law. 

Ms. Fraas: Did your father win that case, or was he in…. 

Mrs. Morrow: He wasn’t involved in that. 

Ms. Fraas: I’m sorry, uh huh (yes).   Do you remember how it turned out? 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes, it turned out in favor of the Colleys. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Morrow: The one that was supposed to have done the killing got just one year in the penitentiary. 

Ms. Fraas: Were there a lot of feuds here in Lincoln County? 

Mrs. Morrow: No, no…. 

Ms. Fraas: Or duels or…. 

Mrs. Morrow: No, I don’t know of any feuds or duels. 

Ms. Fraas: Did lawyers have to carry a pistol around or anything? 

Mrs. Morrow: I don’t think so (laughing)…. 

Ms. Fraas: (laughing). 

Mrs. Morrow: Huh uh (no); not down here. 

Ms. Fraas: Any other cases your father…or were there any other cases that you are familiar with here in Lincoln County that were interesting also? 

Mrs. Morrow: No, I don’t…not that I recall.  I don’t recall any right now. 

Tape goes off, then back on 

Ms. Fraas: What about the fire in Stanford?  What year did it happen and…. 

Mrs. Morrow: I don’t remember exactly what year it did happen, but it was about ten or fifteen years ago, that all the frame part of Stanford burned up, and the fire departments came from about four towns around here.  And we were so amused because we had this neighbor, Miss Julia Simms, who was so very pessimistic, and she’d come every other moment and stay about three hours, and no human could understand anything she said, because she spoke so low, and we’d always say, when she come, we’d greet her and say, how are you Miss Julia, and she’d say, Oh, I won’t live through the summer, I haven’t closed my eyes last night, I didn’t sleep the night before.  So, the morning after the fire, when she came, mother said, how are you Miss Julia, she said, oh, I haven’t closed my eyes.  And, she said, wasn’t it awful about the fire?  And, Miss Julia said, what fire? 

Ms. Fraas: (laughing)…that fire took most of main street then, or just… 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes, he took out where Sedgwiche’s (sic) store is now to the hotel…all that section, all the frame buildings burned.  I wasn’t here at the time, but…. 

Ms. Fraas: You mentioned an opera house here in Stanford? 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes, Walton’s (sic) Opera House. 

Ms. Fraas: Could you tell me about that?  Walton’s Opera House; when was it in operation? 

Mrs. Morrow: Well, until…it was in operation until about, oh, I’d say, ten or twelve years ago, when they had…they used to have minstrels and home town plays and everything there.  It’s right down on Main Street.  The VFW rented for awhile; the VFW Hall.  And, at one time, Mr. Ed Walton had a skating rink there.  It had a wonderful floor. 

Ms. Fraas: For roller skating? 

Mrs. Morrow: Roller skating, uh huh (yes). 

Ms. Fraas: Was this like Vaudeville…Vaudeville acts came to the Opera House? 

Mrs. Morrow: Minstrels and home town plays…there used to be so many home town plays, you know.  And, it was just quite a place.  And, the beaus got reserved seats early, you know, and then they would have…the dances took place there.  It was just quite a place…. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Morrow: Walton’s Opera House. 

Ms. Fraas: Were these like dances for the entire town or what, in particular? 

Mrs. Morrow: Well, yes; just couples; regular dances.  They charged admission, you know. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Morrow: Different ones had them. 

Tape goes off, then back on 

Ms. Fraas: What was the first movie that you saw; first motion picture? 

Mrs. Morrow: I think, if I’m not mistaken, was Charlie Chaplin, and it was, as you know, silent, of course.  It was across the street, or close to where the bank is now… over…upstairs from where the bank is; first picture.  Of course, they had pictures at the Opera House, and then it was just such a nice place. 

Ms. Fraas: You said you recalled your first talkie, your first sound movie? 

Mrs. Morrow: The first talkie I saw in Lexington.  The first talking picture; and they’ve come a long way since then. 

Ms. Fraas: Do you remember the name of it? 

Mrs. Morrow: No, I don’t. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Tape goes off and then back on 

Ms. Fraas: Did you become involved in politics in any way? 

Mrs. Morrow: No, I never was involved in politics, except once, and that was when Happy Chandler ran the first time for Governor in 1935.  I knew him in college at Transylvania College, so I was his chairwoman.  And, he had to go through three elections, you know, the primary, the run-off and the final.  And, I really enjoyed it, that time.  My father didn’t approve of women in politics, but I went on and did that anyway.  I really did enjoy it. 

Ms. Fraas: Happy Chandler was a student at Transylvania when you were there? 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes, yes; he was ahead of me in school, but he was there.  I knew him there. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes); why did you decide to support him?  What was it about him? 

Mrs. Morrow: Well, I just…Happy was so friendly and everything and everybody liked Happy and so he asked me to, and I just made up my mind to go do it. 

Ms. Fraas: Who was Happy running against in ’35? 

Mrs. Morrow: He was running against Rata.  I forget his first name; R-a-t-a. 

Ms. Fraas: Was he given much of…excuse me, was this in the primary, or was that a Republican candidate?  Was this a…. 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes, he wasn’t here too much, but here was here about once or twice during the primary. 

Ms. Fraas: When he was running against this fellow Rata…. 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes. 

Ms. Fraas: Chandler came here to…. 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes, he was here and spoke at the courthouse.  I had to introduce him that night.  And, he had the run off, and I never will forget him saying, I’ve done more running than any other candidate, and he said, one more river to cross (sic), and he was getting ready to run for the final.  But, we had a good time. 

Ms. Fraas: How did Happy Chandler do his campaigning?  Did he visit the small towns, or on the railroad, or how did he travel the…. 

Mrs. Morrow: Well, he travelled in a car. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you travel with the Chandler team any? 

Mrs. Morrow: No, not much; around…would go with some of his supporters to different towns around close, but not far away. 

Ms. Fraas: What were his chances in the primary and in the… 

Mrs. Morrow: Good. 

Ms. Fraas: They were good before he even started? 

Mrs. Morrow: They were good from the beginning. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes).  Did you have any dealings with Chandler when he was Governor, then, his first term? 

Mrs. Morrow: Yes; some of us took in the inauguration and had such a good time. 

Ms. Fraas: But, you say your father preferred women out of politics? 

Mrs. Morrow: No. 

Ms. Fraas: He preferred women wouldn’t get involved…. 

Mrs. Morrow: No; father didn’t believe in women in politics. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes).  What did your father think about the women’s right to vote in 1920. 

Mrs. Morrow: All right…yes, yes, he thought that was right. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 


Scroll to Top