John Coleman White

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 24, 1978 

2 Audio files

The unidentified female who speaks is Nannie Estridge White, John’s wife. 

Tape One, Side One

Ms. Fraas: The following is an unrehearsed interview with Mr. John White by Libby Fraas with the Kentucky Oral History Commission.  The interview was conducted on June 29, 1978 at Mr. White’s home near Crab Orchard, Kentucky at approximately three o’clock in the afternoon.  Mr. White, could you state your full name and where you were born? 

Mr. White: John Coleman White, and I was born within a mile and a half of Crab Orchard, Kentucky; Lincoln County. 

Ms. Fraas: Who were your parents? 

Mr. White: Robert C. White and Katherine Horton. 

Ms. Fraas: What are some of your first memories of Crab Orchard? 

Mr. White: Well, I started to school there.  Of course, I ended up, went to school through high school there.  And, it…when I first knew it, there weren’t many cars in Lincoln County, and they had…you rode horseback or drove a pair of mules to a wagon, buggy; horse-drawn transportation was all we had. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. White: Of course, I guess it was 1916 or something, before there was even a car that I knew of in Lincoln County.  I was eight or nine years old.  I was born in 1909. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes); is the school still standing where you went? 

Mr. White: Oh, no, it burned when I was in second grade. 

Ms. Fraas: Well; who was your teacher?  Do you remember? 

Mr. White: Uh…uh…Mary Gray…she…her mother…she wasn’t raised there, but her mother was. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you go to school for nine months? 

Mr. White: Yes, I believe they had nine months…seven, eight, I guess.  I don’t really…. 

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

Mr. White: I had two sisters and one brother. 

Ms. Fraas: What did your father do? 

Mr. White: He farmed and then he was in the undertaking business; he ran a paint store.  He started out Crab Orchard Water (inaudible)…. 

Ms. Fraas: Could you tell me about that; what your father did with the water at Crab Orchard? 

Mr. White: Well, this mineral water, they evaporated it in large pans with a wood fire under it, and when they reduced it about a tenth…one to one tenth, they bottled it under White’s Concentrated Water.  It was a laxative similar to Epsom Salts.  And, then, to be more convenient, they reduced it farther until it made a salt like Epsom Salts, and it was darker. It was kind of like a light brown sugar colored.  And, it would melt right back in the water. 

Ms. Fraas: Was that bottled, then? 

Mr. White: It was…well, it was put in packages.  The water was boiled…there was…it was merchandised in bottles, sold through drugstores and stores.  And, the opinion of everyone that ever used it, it was much better than any laxative of that day, and much better than Epsom Salts. 

Ms. Fraas: How widely distributed…was White’s Concentrated Water? 

Mr. White: Well, I know he sold it in Missouri and Tennessee, Kansas, Ohio.  I just don’t remember exactly…remember how far. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. White: They made that up until about 1922 when he sold it, and the man they sold it to, made it for some eight to ten years after that.  Now it’s not made anymore.  These wells were dug in kind of a blue clay outcropping.  If livestock had access to that water, they drank it…preferred it over anything there was. 

Ms. Fraas: Did it seem to have any effect on them? 

Mr. White: No, but a lot of people would come and get that water in jugs and keep it and drink it.  It had kind of a bitter taste to it. 

Ms. Fraas: Are these wells still around here today? 

Mr. White: There is some evidence of them, but there are none being pumped.   

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. White: I mean, none of them are being kept up or maintained.  You can see evidence of them. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes).  But, the water would still be there? 

Mr. White: It would be there, if it was gone after. 

Ms. Fraas: You said someone tried to sell a similar product. 

Mr. White: Well, the man we sold it to, decided he would add Epsom Salts…he was trying to get a dollar a pound for this Crab Orchard Salt and he put some ten cent a pound Epsom Salt with it, and thought it would be a little better, and the Food and Drug fined him (sic) and cost him a lot of money.  That stopped the whole deal right there. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you help your father produce this? 

Mr. White: Well, when we were actively doing that, I was small and didn’t help that much.  We had somebody cut wood in four foot lengths and split it enough that they could handle it to get it in under the furnace.  It took several days to evaporate that water. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This woman is Nannie Estridge White, John’s wife:   Do you remember all the things that it cured?  It just cured everything. 

Mr. White: Now, {    }…. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even doctors endorsed it. 

Mr. White: Mainly it was a laxative. 

Ms. Fraas: Did doctors around here… 


Ms. Fraas: Buy your product? 

Mr. White: Well, evidently; we have those testimonies. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sick headaches, constipation…. 

Mr. White: Nannie, you’ll be on tape. 

Ms. Fraas: We’ve got this paper of testimonials, Governor Luke Blackburn giving a testimonial to it? 

Mr. White: Is he the Tennessee Governor? 

Ms. Fraas: I’m not sure. 


Mr. White: Doctor {  }…. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. {  } endorsed it. 

Ms. Fraas: Do you recall some of the doctors that worked around Crab Orchard early in the century? 

Mr. White: Well, the main one that I knew was Dr. Willie J. Edminston.  At one time there was five doctors in Crab Orchard.   They covered a wide area in horse and buggy. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:   Deliver a baby for ten dollars in your home. 

(tape goes off, then back on) 

Mr. White: …any closer than Lexington. 


Mr. White: There might have been one in Berea. 

Ms. Fraas: You said your father was also an undertaker? 

Mr. White: They sold handles and the things that people used to make wooden coffins, or made the homemade coffins a lot.  He sold the handles, and they had a horse-drawn hearse.  The first motorized hearse I ever saw was in 1917. The owner of the Crab Orchard Springs Hotel, Joe Willis died.  He was a native of Nicholasville, and they came from Nicholasville with a horse-drawn hearse, and we all was going out through there on a hill, probably a quarter of a mile on the highway just to see that hearse pass. 

Ms. Fraas: Was that out of respect for Mr. Willis or to see the car? 

Mr. White: Well, really, it was both, because we went to the same church that Mr. Willis went to, and the kids were small.  We didn’t go to the funeral, but we went out there to spend…very curious to see it…a motor hearse. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes).  What are your memories of Crab Orchard Springs? 

Mr. White: Well, I was there for quite a…around a lot.  They had a golf course, horseback riding, swimming, fishing and whatnot.  And, the…one of the most vivid memories was in 1930.  They had the National Foxhunters Association there.  They were there from 27 states.  I would get up early of the morning, like 2: 30, go to the barn at the hotel and saddle up 8 or 10 or 12 horses for different people, like Lyn Shouse, the manager for the Phoenix Hotel in Lexington, and others in his group, and take them for miles to where they were going to have the hunt, and they’d come out later in the morning, about daylight in cars.  There were several of us doing that.  We’d take the horses out.  We’d build us up a big fire, and they would come out about daylight and turn the dogs loose.  My brother, eight years younger than I was, but he was big enough, and I’d take 8 or 10 horses and tie them together and lead them, he’d ride one and get behind us to start them, to keep them going.  We’d ride out maybe 8 or 10 miles in the dark to get to the hunting grounds so they could come.  And, they followed the hounds with the horses, the best they could. 

Ms. Fraas: Where were the hounds kept? 

Mr. White: Well, see, they were brought in…each individual that came to the hunt would bring his own dogs, and they would put painted numbers on the side of the dog.  And, they…judges…there’s three judges that rode after the hounds, and they decided the winner of each category.  These dogs could have been from any one of the twenty odd states represented. 

Ms. Fraas: The dog was the winner then, the dog that did the best job? 

Mr. White: The dog that stayed in the lead the most.  One morning, on the adjoining farm where my brother lives now, they were going to turn the young dogs loose, derby dogs, and around the fire…they had this in October, in cool weather…frosty weather, and there was an old red shepherd dog there that belonged to a man…as this county road intersected with the highway, and as they turned these young dogs loose, several of them went running off down toward the woods and some of them around through the crowd.  They weren’t as experienced as they should have been.  And, directly that shepherd dog decided maybe he should go home, and some of them young hounds started running him, just baying him like they would a fox, and there was about a 135- 40 dogs in that bunch, and they all came right back in the race, run that dog home, and he ran under the floor.  And, they just started running one of the leaders, I guess, and they run clear into Rockcastle County after chasing the dog.  It took them two or three weeks to catch all their dogs. 

Ms. Fraas: (Laughing) You said derby dogs, what do you mean by that? 

Mr. White: Well, I don’t…that’s just a term in fox…I believe that’s what they call them. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What’d it mean?  You don’t know? 

Mr. White: Well, it’s the young dogs; had to be of a certain age. 

Ms. Fraas: Who were some of the people around here who raised hunting dogs? 

Mr. White: The Walkers; they started the Walker Foxhound.  They were from Garrard and Madison County; but, there’s one that lives right here at the intersection in that brick house we showed you.   And, they were…the hounds bear their name, the Walker Foxhound.  And, there were Holmes that had dogs, and Dixons and Birge (sic), Tom Stigall (sic). 

Ms. Fraas: Did your family raise any dogs? 

Mr. White: No, we never did hunt 

Ms. Fraas: Who were some of the other people that would come down here to hunt? 

Mr. White: Well, one of them that I knew well was Sam Rook Woolridge, from Versailles. And, I took his horses out.  I took his horses out to the hunt ground for him, and his party.  He was one of the leaders in this state and national, as Lyn Shouse was on the national board.  And, he ran the Phoenix and Lafayette Hotels in Lexington.  And, one morning Mr. Woolridge asked me to go on the hunt.  He said the people that I had some horses out there for, two or three horses, got a little too much to drink the night before and wouldn’t be there, and he wanted me to go with him.  And, we were hunting in the vicinity of…right on the banks of the Dix River.  And, the dogs had struck a fox in the cedar country up above the river, and had gone down and crossed the river and were running on the other side in a long bottom that belonged to Jess Larmes (sic), at that time.  And, he asked me how deep that river was there.  And, I told him I had no idea, but it looked awfully deep.  And, he said, well, he had to get the hounds, he was one of the judges.  And, he just…he was…Mr. Woolridge was a man that must have been 6’6”or 7” and he’d weigh 280 and he had a great big tall horse.  He turned that horse around and…right about fifty yards away from the river, just turned around and spurred into that horse, ran right at that river, jumped right off in it and they went down under the water enough it even splashed that red cap of Mr. Wooldridge’s off.  They went down and finally the horse got out on the other side.  I got me a stick, a long pole and fished his cap out and that’s as far as I went. 

Ms. Fraas: (laughing) 

Mr. White: I didn’t think I had to go to the hounds. 

Ms. Fraas: What was the…I’m not that familiar with foxhunting.  Where did the fox come from?  Was there just one sighted or…. 

Mr. White: Well, they leave tracks.  The dogs run by smell. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. White: Unless, they’ve run awhile and get right on a fox, they run by smell…by smell only, and they are slower than a fox.  And the fox will try to play…will play tricks on them.  They’ll go to water.  They’ll run in the water to lose them.  They’ll…used to be rail fences around and they’d jump up on a rail fence and walk those rails and lose the hounds.  They would climb up on a cliff or something and jump off to break the scents and maybe lose the dogs.  A fox that’s been run enjoys it. 

Ms. Fraas: What happens when the fox is cornered, though? 

Mr. White: Well, if they ever corner one, they’ll kill it.  But, that doesn’t happen too often.  They usually outwit the hounds and get away from them.  As the smarter dogs will stay and the ones that are really determined will stay longer…when they get down to just a few…or one individual, they will just more or less give up.  The fox usually gets away. 

Ms. Fraas: After you finished your schooling at Crab Orchard, what did you do then? 

Mr. White: Well, the first year I was out of high school, there was an elderly gentlemen that had two sons about my age; one a year older and one a year younger, and we followed the wheat harvest.  And, we started in Kansas and followed the harvest all the way into Canada.  I worked three or four days in Canada and it started snowing in September.  We came back to the states.  We came back down…we went out on…we thrashed in Washington state before we went into Canada; went into the very Western corner of Canada.  We came back down in Oregon and picked prunes…plums for prunes two or three days and…in Yakima, we picked apples…in Yakima and Wenatchee Valley for a week or two and then went on down and picked prunes and came back through California and Arizona.  He had brothers and sisters in California and I had several aunts living in…in Arizona, I had some people.  He had a brother in Arizona.  We was visiting and came back through Texas and Arkansas and back in…we was gone about four months.  I came back with $32.00 more than I left with. 

Ms. Fraas: Yeah; what did you get paid for working…for threshing all day? 

Mr. White: Well, at the height of it, we got about $5.00 a day, and five meals a day.   

Ms. Fraas: Well… 

Mr. White: The day started as soon as you could see and ended when you couldn’t.  And, we ate breakfast before we started to work, in the dark.  And nine o’clock or something, they’d feed us lunch.  We’d take off at noon for a few minutes and eat, and the middle of the afternoon and four or five o’clock, they’d feed us again, and we’d work until eight or nine o’clock.  We were putting in 16, 17 hours a day for a five dollar bill yet.  That was big money. 

Ms. Fraas: How did you locate the places to work? 

Mr. White: Well, the harvest…the wheat will start ripening in the South first and we would just go along and they had the…had the…employment agencies that…they didn’t charge anything…it was just there as a courtesy to get the worker and the producer together.  We went through Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota, Idaho, Washington.  By then, they had to cut this wheat with a binder and shock it, tie it in bundles and haul it on a wagon to the thrasher, it used steam engines in 1927. 

Ms. Fraas: How were you travelling from place to place? 

Mr. White: In a 1922 Model T Ford that we’d worked over for our own convenience.  We added some tarpaulins that we could tie over the car and back toward the ground to make a tent to sleep under.  We had a little Coleman gas stove.  And, of course, when we were working, they fed us.  But, when we were just travelling, we did our own cooking and stayed and slept on the ground.  This car…those old Model T’s had three bands in the transmission, and as they’d wear out, they had to be replaced.  There’s no telling how many sets of bands we put in that car.  We went over several mountain ranges and it was the only Model T, at that time, that had ever been on that tallest peak in Yellowstone Park.  And, the way we got it up there, we let Mr. Geizler (sic) drive, and the three boys got out and pushed.   

Ms. Fraas: (laughs) 

Mr. White: And, if we’d give out, we’d just pull over to the side of the road and…it was right at the first of August and we got up on that peak, and there was a heavy snowstorm for about fifteen minutes. 

Ms. Fraas: Really?  Huh. 

Mr. White: There was a half an inch of snow on the ground. 

Ms. Fraas: How do you know yours was the first Model T? 

Mr. White: Well, now, the employees of the park told us when we started up there that we’d never make it.  They said, there never has been a Model T up there. 

Ms. Fraas: Oh. 

Mr. White: And, it wouldn’t pull it.  It wouldn’t pull itself.  Us three boys had to push.  I never worked any harder for two hours and a half than I did, trying to push that thing up that hill. 

Ms. Fraas: You should have a plaque up there for you (laughing). 

Mr. White: (laughing) I signed the guest register when I was on top of it. 

Ms. Fraas: This was in 1927.  That was right before the thirties and the depression period and the Dust Bowl and all that. 

Mr. White: In 1929, a boy from Crab Orchard that I went to school with, Frank Setters (sic) …we went to Arizona.  And, he worked for the O’Malley Lumber Company on the roofing department.  And, I got a job with the Fire Service.  And, most of the year…part of the year, I was out in the forest.  But, off season, sometimes, in the middle of the winter, I’d come in…I did work for the O’Malley Lumber Company a little bit.  I worked there until 1933.  I came back…I had more relatives in Arizona than I do in Kentucky.  I had an aunt with ten children, and a widow, that went to Arizona in 1910 and homesteaded.  And, I had an uncle and two of my dad’s half-brothers went to Arizona and homesteaded.  Their children are all in Arizona or moved to California. 

Ms. Fraas: Did they come from Lincoln County originally? 

Mr. White: Yes; my family never did marry early.  My grandfather came from Tazewell, Tennessee to Crab Orchard in the spring of 1862, and Dad was born in ’67.  And, I was born in 1909.  I don’t know how old he was when he married, but he must have been close to 40.  And, I was 32 years old when I married. 

Ms. Fraas: (Laughs) 

Mr. White: Let’s see, my dad would have been a 110 this…111 this…would have been 111 the 2nd day of September.  So, there’s quite an age gap. 



Ms. Fraas: You said you worked for the Forest Service.  Which…is this the Yellowstone Forest… 

Mr. White: Well, it’s the U.S. Forest Service, under the Department of Agriculture.  They have…the park rangers are separate from the forest…they are different.  The ones that you have in the parks are under a different sub group that would be…those that are just protecting from fire.  When I was with the forest service, I packed the material, about six and a half miles from the foot of the mountain to the top, and built a look-out station.  I packed it on mules; lumber, brick, screen, everything they had to have.  And, they built a look-out station.  These were all packed up the mountain on mules.  Pardon me a minute. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

(Tape is off, then back on) 

Mr. White: Her dad was the…. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Train, railroad… 

Mr. White: Agent at the depot in Crab Orchard for years.  And, they ran a hotel…. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crab Orchard, at one time, had several hotels….{  } 

Mr. White: Three. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (naming hotels)…and the Crab Orchard Hotel was famous for its good food.  Oh, they just had an enormous amount of it. 

Mr. White: I had…in the three years that I was there, I fried more chicken than any woman in the state of Kentucky ever dared to fry. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They had ham, chicken, so many vegetables…. 

Mr. White: They had old country ham. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they had dances there, too. 

Mr. White: They had a big ballroom. 

Ms. Fraas: Now, this is at the Crab Orchard Springs, or the Crab Orchard Hotel? 

Mr. White: Springs; it was what was called a summer resort. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They went out of use…I mean, they outlived their use, you know, as a place to cure…the rest and the good food did more for you than the water. 

Mr. White: Nannie, where is my picture of the Springs Hotel? 

(tape goes off, then back on) 

Ms. Fraas: Let’s back up a minute to this Mr. Geisel (sic).  You said he came from Germany to Crab Orchard? 

Mr. White: Yes, and his oldest son was born on April 1st, and then my birthday was the next year on April the…on May the 1st, and the youngest boy was the next year on June the 6th.  And, we played together all the time we was growing up. 

Ms. Fraas: Did he know English before he came over here? 

Mr. White: Well, when I first knew him, he spoke good English.  He was married here.  He was, I think, fourteen when his parents came. 

Ms. Fraas: How come he decided to take off on this summer wheat trip? 

Mr. White: He had…he was…he was a road builder, a contractor, and he got in financial difficulty, due to politics in the state.  He was broke, I guess.  And, he was just looking for some place to start over. 

Ms. Fraas: Huh; when you came back in 1933 to Crab Orchard, then, you worked then, at the Crab Orchard Springs? 

Mr. White: I cooked there for three years. 

Ms. Fraas: What… 

Mr. White: During the summer months; they opened in May and closed the last of September. 

Ms. Fraas: What qualified you as a cook? 


Mr. White: (Laughter) guts…pardon that expression. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh, did you have to demonstrate your ability to cook, or did they… 

Mr. White: No, I just told them that I had cooked a lot.   When I was in Tucson and trying to winter…the forest service had laid off some in the fall, and it would start back, and it went by seniority, and I was trying to stay until they put them back to work in the dry season.  And, I saw this sign in this little restaurant, this hamburger joint, served hamburgers and chili and beef stew, that wanted a cook, and I just had enough nerve to walk in and tell them I could cook, and I started out, I made the grade, through necessity, I guess.  I got a dollar a day and one meal.  One meal was correct.  I just ate from the time I got there until I quit. 

Ms. Fraas: You then were working…what kind of meals did you cook, then for the guests at Crab Orchard? 

Mr. White: Oh, I did what they call dinner work, getting the vegetables and meats and all the…of course, all the cooks served through breakfast.  They served bacon and ham and sausage and eggs to order; usually had fried potatoes, fried apples.  Thank goodness we never got any grits here. 

Ms. Fraas: (laughing) 

Mr. White: Then, as soon as we’d get relief from breakfast, we get on dinner; fried chicken, baked country ham.  They had the pastry cooked separate from…and salad makers were separate.  They would give you a choice of country ham or chicken or roast beef, roast lamb, for lunch, and then at night, they’d usually feature steaks, fried chicken again.  And, we were cooking on coal fired ranges.  There were six big ranges setting side by each, and the temperature must have gotten about 120. 

Ms. Fraas: How did you keep cool? 

Mr. White: We didn’t.  That was something else, to brave that heat. 

Ms. Fraas: How did the chicken that you cooked then compare with, say, Colonel Sanders’ chicken? 


Mr. White: Well, there is no comparison, hardly.  It’s just…it was…not to be bragging, but we had a different kind of chicken.  These chickens are forced and they don’t…they’re so tender they’re almost soft, and those chickens then were farm raised and they’re…it’s just a better quality chicken.  And, then, people didn’t know it was a sin to use lard, and we fried them in lard, instead of salad…or vegetable oil, vegetable shortenings, and they were just much better.  We fried them on the half, mostly; served a half a chicken. 

Ms. Fraas: How many people might be at the dinner table on a Sunday in the summertime? 

Mr. White: Well, over the weekend, you could expect anywhere from four to six hundred.  And, then, with the chambermaids and the busboys and waiters, that extra help, that would be 125-40 head that had to be fed too.  But, we fed them a little different menu. 

Ms. Fraas: Who was managing the hotel when you worked there? 

Mr. White: Joel Potter (sic) was the manager.  When I cooked in that little old hamburger joint, they were going to open up a hotel in that area, and when…it had been closed, during the depression and someone else was going to open it up, and while they were working there, they came by a time or two, and I got a job over there at the Carnada (sic) Hotel, in the kitchen.  I was there for a few months.  I farmed when I came back.  I was farming when they came and asked me to cook at the hotel up here. 

Ms. Fraas: Where was your farm?  Where were you doing your farming? 

Mr. White: In the Preachersville area, about three and a half, four miles out of town. 

Ms. Fraas: Out of Crab Orchard? 

Mr. White: Yeah; dad owned the farm. 

Ms. Fraas: What did you raise, tobacco? 

Mr. White: Tobacco, corn, livestock.  We kept sheep, hogs, cattle.  And, I have traded in livestock most of my life. 

Ms. Fraas: What do you mean by that? 

Mr. White: Speculate, buy and sell. 

Ms. Fraas: Okay. 

Mr. White: When they were working horses and mules, I used to buy and sell several work hanimals: horses and mules.  And, I’d buy and sell cattle. 

Ms. Fraas: Where did you buy the cattle; around this area? 

Mr. White: Buy them in the country; either a sale in the country or go to the stockyards.  And, I’ve bought at one yard and take them to another.  In 1943, when I sold that farm over on the river, I sold it to a man, whose primary interest was to keep his son out of…being drafted in the army.  And…then you couldn’t buy a piece of land, because if it was offered, somebody could have the money to buy it trying to keep his son out of the army.  They could get deferred if they had a farming operation.  And, I went to the Bourbon Stockyards in Louisville and worked procuring my order buyers.  I was down there until the spring of ’46 when I bought a farm and moved…came back to Lincoln County. 

Ms. Fraas: So, you were buying the cattle as they came in; as the farmers brought them in? 

Mr. White: Yes; and they were making alcohol for the government, and they were using the…they were making it out of grain, and they…the distilleries there were making alcohol for the government. 

Ms. Fraas: Was this during prohibition? 

Mr. White: Yes; and they were…no, it wasn’t during prohibition. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was after prohibition. 

Mr. White: It was after prohibition, but… 

Ms. Fraas: Was this during the war…. 

Mr. White: World War II they were making alcohol, and as they’d grind this grain and distill it, there’s a by-product, a slop they call it.  It’s just a liquid with all the solids of the grain, and they feed that to the cattle.  And, they were feeding them by the thousands.  We bought a lot of slop cattle.  But, it’s a pretty concentrated feed, and they get fat on it.  I know we’d buy, usually, cattle that would bring a certain grade, and then we would have to be there to sort them into grade.  I know we shipped over 1,700 in one day that came from Deatsville, out near Bardstown, and, shipped them east to an abattoir in Jersey City. 

Ms. Fraas: This is by train? 

Mr. White: Yes; an abattoir is a place where a beef…a beef place will give a killer an order for a certain kind of cattle, and they take…they buy the cattle, slaughter them and let the people have them.  That’s different than a regular packing plant like Swift Amour or something.  The cattle are sold before they’re bought, or when they’re bought.  I still buy a few, occasionally, and sell them. 

Ms. Fraas: Who were some of the cattle raisers around this area that you dealt with; some of those that raised fine cattle, say, in Lincoln County, or even in adjoining counties? 

Mr. White: Well, of course, in Garrard County, you had the Sanders Brothers, Dixie Stock Farm, and they were the biggest operators around.  They handle Angus cattle.  They put out a lot of club calves for 4-Her’s to feed.  They’ve won a many of a state show with them. 

Ms. Fraas: Was there a stock yards in Crab Orchard? 

Mr. White: Never was there one there, but they had loading pens to load onto cars.  I had a cousin, John Rigsby that traded livestock.  He owned a…that’s all he did.  Well he ran a farm, too, but he never did work on it that much, and I know I’ve helped him drive hogs three miles and a half to load there at Crab Orchard. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They drove stock from here to Richmond, Kentucky to sell, through the country. 

Mr. White: They would start down below Somerset and drive and buy as they could come, just keep, and drive them right up the road, two or three men on horses, and a couple of dogs.  The dogs know enough that they could send them ahead to block a gate that was open, or a side road or whatnot.  And, I’ve seen them drive geese to be shipped.  I’ve seen them ship geese out of Crab Orchard.  Buy geese all down…from Somerset up.  I’ve seen them drive turkeys. 

Ms. Fraas: What do they do…. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There’s a high demand for feathers for pillows and feather beds. 

Mr. White: Well, the geese, they eat them, too. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, they eat them too, but there’s a demand for feathers for the pillows and feather beds. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mr. White: And, that was a by-product, but then they drive turkeys out and ship them on the cars, freight cars.  A lot of the cattle was moved on foot.  They opened a…they opened a stockyards at Roland, right there where Southern States is built now (925 Old Hwy. 150  E.), and it was a pretty good sized yard. 

Ms. Fraas: What happened to that stockyards?  Why did it…. 

Mr. White: It just a…I think it was during the depression, it went under. 


Ms. Fraas: Was there a community around it? 

Mr. White: Well, it’s a…as you go back towards town, just as you get to the railroad tracks, it will be on your left there, where Southern States is.  It was built there on the railroad, where they could ship out.  And, they built one in Danville, Boyle County Yards, and it grew faster.  And, then trucks were beginning to come around and they were beginning to haul the animals. 

Ms. Fraas: Do you recall some of the old fairs that they used to hold around here? 

Mr. White: Well, the Brodhead Fair has been the oldest, and it’s been abandoned, two years…three.  They called it the Little World’s Fair.  And, it drew from several counties. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stanford had a fair too. 

Mr. White: But it wasn’t this well known, as the one in Brodhead. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, but we have had other fairs. 

Ms. Fraas: Where is the…where was the Brodhead Fairgrounds? 

Mr. White: It was just out of Brodhead about a half a mile.  The buildings and things are still standing.  When I first remember it, they had a half mile of track there.  They had troting  races, pacing races, plug horse races, mule races.  And, then, that went out.  But, the fair stayed there until…maybe two or three years ago. 

Ms. Fraas: Were cattle shown at the fair? 

Mr. White: Yes, there were cattle, hogs and sheep at one time, and then they got down to just cattle; dairy and beef.  These fairs have a tendency to go more to the carnival…just go more and more and more to carnival than they do to the original idea of a fair.  I don’t know why that one closed.  The…at Crab Orchard, the…one of the hotels there that…Mr. Liam Teeter came there to that hotel along in 1917 or 1918, 20, somewhere…and he had three sons, and the older one, Lloyd, he showed horses.  His dad had American bred saddle horses and he showed them.  Lloyd showed; and then his second son, Earl, showed.  And the younger one, J.E. shows.  And, Earl went with Dodge Stables, and he wound up as the greatest American Bred horse shower (sic) that’s ever been.  He’s won state and national titles more than anyone. 

Ms. Fraas: Mm mmm. 

`Mr. White: And, one year at the state fair, Earl placed first, Lloyd placed second, J.E. third; final.  It was the championship on Saturday night.  Earl married a girl that lived on an adjoining farm where I was raised.  She’s still living, but Earl’s dead.  He had three boys and two of the boys are still in the horse business.  They have a boarding farm out on Tates Creek…off of Tates Creek Pike in Lexington that they board broodmares and colts and horses.  And, Pete (sic) still shows.  But, the foremost horse trainers were raised right there, grew up in Crab Orchard. 

Ms. Fraas: Was there any betting at the fair on these horse races? 

Mr. White: Well, not  legally and open, but the mule race, people that had…there’s a lot of interest in it.  A mule runs if he wants to.  They’re liable to go in any direction.  They had quite a time. 

Ms. Fraas: Did they run mules on a regular track? 

Mr. White: Yes; but, of course, they didn’t have any starting gate or anything.  They’d just start them at the drop of a hat; had a lot of fun.  The races, I don’t know when they ended, but they haven’t had those races in the last fifteen, twenty years, maybe longer.  The historical society, the last since the centennial, have had races held on the 4th of July, around Sportsman Hill up here, at the William Whitley house.  That’s the old brick house, the first one west of the mountains.  They are going to have it this year on a Tuesday, the 4th of July.  And, I have been asked to contact, well, to help, ever since they’ve had it…the people that’s running plug horses and mules.  They come from Columbia, Somerset, as well as closer counties.  They’ll have a mule race, two or three pony races, different categories, plug horse race, and then they’ll have a racking class.  That’s one of the coming things that these horse shows around here are into, is the racking classes. 

Ms. Fraas: What’s that? 

Mr. White: Well, it’s a special gait that horses will have, and it’s fast.  And, most of these rings at these horse shows are small, and you get 25-30-40 horses out there and them all going like crazy, it’s kind of interesting. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes); did you visit Stanford, or did Stanford have Court Days, county court days like other towns? 

Mr. White: Yes. 

Ms. Fraas: What was a court day like in Stanford? 

Mr. White: Well, just everything went crazy…There was a group around…I never did go to a court day in Stanford.  But, Richmond held them longer than any county that I…around here.  And, people used to take horses and mules and other livestock, guns and dogs and what-have-you, and had a flea market…It wasn’t called that back then.  It was just swapping, knife swapping, and gun swapping and buying.  One time I was holding five mules trying to sell them in Richmond, and then, at noon, 12 o’clock, they blew the siren that was on the fire station…and I had country mules…and when they turned that siren loose, those mules went in five different directions.  It was a little fun gathering them up. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you sell your mules? 

Mr. White: Well, I sold two pair before I left there, after I got them caught. 

Ms. Fraas: What do you have to know to be a successful stock trader? 

Mr. White: Hmmph! 

Ms. Fraas: What do you have to look out for? 

Mr. White: Well, you just have to know the market a little better and be a little better judge of the weight of them than the person that’s selling.  You just have to buy cheap and sell a little higher.  And, a lot of people make a success out of it and some of them don’t.  I never did – in the last thirty, thirty-five years; I haven’t pursued it hard as I did before.  I still buy and sell.  When I see a bargain, I just buy it. 


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