Shirley Dunn interviewed 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 27, 1978 




Ms. Fraas: The following is an interview with Mrs. Shirley Dunn of Lincoln County, Kentucky by Libby Fraas with the Kentucky Oral History Commission.  The interview took place in the Harvey Helm Historical Library in Stanford on June 27, 1978, at about 2:00 in the afternoon. 

(tape goes off, then back on) 

Ms. Fraas: We’re sitting in the Harvey Helm Historical Library, is that correct? 

Mrs. Dunn: (no audible response). 

Ms. Fraas: Could you tell me a little bit about how it developed? 

Mrs. Dunn: The library, itself, was started by the Women’s Club, and they were organized in 1914.  And, one of their first projects was the library.  And, the first librarian was Ms. Mattie Paxton.  I think you’ve interviewed Ms. Morrow, and she was an aunt of Ms. Morrow.  Later on, Ms. Marion Grimes was librarian, and she served from 1937 to 1959, until her death.  And, all these ladies served without a salary.  Then, in 1938 to ’41, Lincoln County received a WPA grant for a paid librarian, but Ms. Grimes still worked under her.  From 1914 until ’53, the library was housed on the 3rd floor of the courthouse.  But, at that time, we received a bookmobile, and we couldn’t carry those books up and down those steps, so they moved us to the basement of the courthouse.  Then, in 1965, Mrs. Harvey Helm left the home that we’re sitting in to the people of Lincoln County for a library, in her Will, with the provision that we pass a tax to maintain it.  We voted on that tax and failed, and we had to vote the second year, and it passed. 

Ms. Fraas: This was a county-wide referendum? 

Mrs. Dunn: Uh huh (yes); and that’s the way we are operating today.  She also asked us to give the library the name of her husband, who had been a United States Representative. 

Ms. Fraas: This was Harvey Helm? 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes; he served from the 6th District from about 1916.  I have a photograph that was made in 1916.  We soon outgrew this library, because the state gave us a demonstration and brought a lot of books in, and Mrs. Helm had said we could expand, but we could not change the front of the building.  Well, the bank wouldn’t lend us money on that basis.  So, we had to buy a new lot and build from scratch.  But, to keep this library, it had to be kept as a library, or it would go back to heirs.  So, we made it a branch library, a small historic

library, genealogical library, and then in the other rooms we’ve added the museum.  So, that’s where we stand today. 

Ms. Fraas: What about the history of this house?  How did it come into Mrs. Helm’s possession? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, she bought it from a family by the name of Rout (sic), but in the very beginning, this house was owned by the sister of Benjamin Logan.  She was Mary Logan Reeves.  Benjamin Logan, of course, was the one that built the fort and established the town of Stanford.  And, she gave it to the Presbyterians for a church.  That was about 1788. 

Ms. Fraas: 1788 when she gave it… 

Mrs. Dunn: Uh huh (yes), and they used it as a church.  Well, they outgrew it, and then Benjamin Logan gave land up where the Buffalo Springs Cemetery is now, and they built the church there, and they operated from there for several years, and then they rebuilt…or they built a new building, down on Main Street, where they are operating today as the Presbyterian Church.  But, the house, itself, is historical, in the fact of when you think of it in connection with the whole Logan family. 

Ms. Fraas: So, you would date, part of this house, at least, back to the beginning of Stanford, or…. 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes, this room and the hall are log, and they are the actual home of Mary Reeves.  And, then, after they moved the church, I haven’t traced it through the Courts to know how many people did own it, but the rebuilding was done after Mary Reeves time…. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Dunn: But before Mrs. Helm purchased it. 

Ms. Fraas: Have you seen the original logs?  Are they hidden in the structure? 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes, you can see them in the basement, and you can tell from the depth of the doorways that it is log…made of log, and the depth of the windows, too.  You can see they are thick enough that you’re sure they’re log. 

(tape goes off and then back on) 

Ms. Fraas: What would you say is the most unusual item that you have in the museum?  You may have several.  What are some of them? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, I’ve spent the most…the unusual and the most expensive item that we have is a Kentucky long rifle.  Now, we are tax supported. The library is tax supported, so we do not use tax money to buy items for the museum, and you don’t always get a lot of things given.  People have a lot of nice antiques here, but they don’t want to part with them.  But, we have a small fund that was given to us in memory of a man that grew up here, Harry Farmer; lived in Lexington. 

Ms. Fraas: He grew up in this home or…. 

Mrs. Dunn: No, not in this home, but in this town. 

Ms. Fraas: In Stanford. 

Mrs. Dunn: Uh huh (yes); and at his death, the family requested that contributions be sent to the museum rather than flowers.  And, so, we used that memorial fund for the items that we buy, rather than using tax money for it. 

Ms. Fraas: What are some of the things that you’ve purchased, besides a rifle? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, that rifle was one.  We have purchased a Seth Thomas clock that runs, and we have an old lard press that was used back in the early nineteen hundreds.  We bought an old dentist chair.  And, there’s some small items.  We have a large axe.  We have what is called a lap bench.  It’s made of metal, and it was where a person working with a hammer on metals could sit comfortably and place the little bench on his knees and pound on that, rather than on the knees. 

Ms. Fraas: Like a tinsmith or… 

Mrs. Dunn: No, it would be…well, it could be… 

Ms. Fraas: A silversmith? 

Mrs. Dunn: Something of that…could be something heavier, too.  And, we have some old {  } that we bought with this fund.  I should have made a list of these, but I didn’t do it. 

Ms. Fraas: Let’s back up a minute.  This lard press; could you…we don’t make lard like that anymore.   

Mrs. Dunn: No. 

Ms. Fraas: Could you tell me how…how lard was made? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, yes, I can, because I’ve made it many times.  I’m that old.  When we would butcher the hogs in the fall, the fat was cut from the lean part of the meat and the hams and the shoulders would be cured, and this fat was cut in small pieces and cooked and then placed into the lard press to press the lard, press the grease out of the skin.  And, what was left was called cracklings.  That made awful good cornbread too. 

Ms. Fraas: Well, did you grind it up, then, for cornbread or… 

Mrs. Dunn: No, usually it was small enough pieces.  Because if you cut the fat pieces in small pieces, they cooked faster, so we cut it up pretty fine. 

Ms. Fraas: There’s also an unusual sheep shears…what looks unusual to me…upstairs.  Could you tell me a little bit about how sheep was sheared with this machine? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, yes, that was before the time when they had electricity in the barns and could use an electric clipper.  But, it’s a machine that stands on three legs, and the power is furnished by a crank, and it took two people to shear the sheep; one person had to operate the machine and the other man ran the clippers over the sheep to get the wool off. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes); the dentist chair that you have in one room, where did you find that? 

Mrs. Dunn: We bought that in Lexington.  I don’t know whoever owned that.  We didn’t know. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Dunn: But, it is a very, very old one, and we found it in an antique shop. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Dunn: And, it was purchased with this same Farmer fund. 

Ms. Fraas: There’s been a great interest in antiques lately.  How do you go about finding good bargains? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, we visit sales a lot.  We have a large dinner bell that was used…a farm bell, to call the men in for their meals…that we found out in the country at an auction.  And, it’s been placed here in front of the building here.  And, one of the men on the library board has an antique shop, and he’s on the lookout for things like that for us.  This old bell costs us $140.00.   

Ms. Fraas: You have a stone…a round stone item in the hallway.  Can you tell me about that? 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes, that came from the farm owned by Smith T. Powell.  Mr. Powell was killed in a tractor accident last year.  But, I visited his farm a few years ago, in writing up the story of his home, which was a home of one of our revolutionary soldiers, and he showed me the wheel.  And, it’s unusual looking, and he felt sure that it is a cart wheel, rather than a mill wheel.  But, it’s about the size of a mill wheel.  But, it has a date on it, and the date is September 30, 1789.  And, we feel sure that it carried a family over Cumberland Gap, in a cart, coming to Kentucky. 

Ms. Fraas: Where is Smith…where is Smith Powell’s farm? 

Mrs. Dunn: It’s out on Peyton Wells Road.  In fact, it’s called the Peyton Wells Farm.  And, the revolutionary soldier that I mentioned was Valentine Peyton, and his very famous sulphur well right there on the bank on the Hanging Fork Creek that runs through this farm. 

Ms. Fraas: What do you mean by sulphur well? 

Mrs. Dunn: It’s…It’s…it tastes like sulphur, and a lot of people back in those early days used the sulphur water, and many of the waters from the wells here, for medicinal purposes.  And, there’s many different wells, besides sulphur, in Lincoln County. 

Ms. Fraas: What makes you think that this wheel is…was used as a cart wheel? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, the way the wheel is shaped.  Usually the old mill wheels would be perfectly flat on both sides, and one side of this wheel is rounded, rather than flat on both sides.  And, of course, it is supposition that it was a cart wheel, but Mr. Powell thought it was. 

Ms. Fraas: Has there ever been any historical research into using the stone wheels and the carts…. 

Mrs. Dunn: No…. 

Ms. Fraas: Most of us think, you know, the covered wagon. 

Mrs. Dunn: No, we have not.  But, thinking that it was a cart wheel rather than a mill wheel, we know of no mill that was in that exact vicinity, in the early days.  Now, there were many mills on Hanging Fork Creek and on Dix River, but none in that vicinity that we ever heard of.  That is another reason why we think it is a cart wheel, instead of a mill wheel. 

Ms. Fraas: You have an old newspaper displayed in one of your shelves.  Could you tell me about that? 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes, that is a Pennsylvania newspaper and it was given to this museum by John Fischer.  He is a brother of Lee Davis Fischer.  They were both raised in this county.  And, I corresponded with Mrs. Fischer, and she told me about having the paper.  When I wrote her, I complemented her on it, and didn’t even hint that I thought we might have it.  But, later she wrote me and said they felt like it should be in this museum and she was going to send it to me.  And, a few weeks later, I had another letter from her, and she said we’ve decided that the newspaper is too valuable to send it through the mail and I’m going to bring it to you.  And, they did.  They had two teenage sons, and they took them out of school, brought me the newspaper and spent most of the day in this museum, and they thoroughly enjoyed it.  The newspaper is dated… 

Ms. Fraas: 1787. 

Mrs. Dunn: 1787, and the reason that it is so much value to us, it does have an article in the newspaper written by Benjamin Logan. 

Ms. Fraas: Do you recall what the article dealt with? 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes, it’s about…in fact it was a letter to the Indians and he was scolding them for their treatment of the white people. 

Ms. Fraas: An open letter to the Indians? 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes; uh huh (yes). 

Ms. Fraas: This was published where in the newspaper? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, it had to be in Pennsylvania, but I’m not sure.  I should have looked at it before we started talking.  But, the name of the newspaper is the Pennsylvania Bulletin or  Gazette. 

(tape goes off, and then back on) 

Mrs. Dunn: ….And maybe back to Pennsylvania too, on a good many trips, and it could have been done on one of his trips back there, after he had even started the Fort here. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes); the Pennsylvania Journal, published in Philadelphia.  Could you tell me a little bit about the items that you would like to have for the museum; items that you are looking for, that you have not yet obtained? 

Mrs.  Dunn: Well, of course, we don’t have a lot of room here for a lot of furniture, but there are many antiques in the county that would be acceptable, and, in fact, we would really like to have.  In fact, I had seen a set of brass sleigh bells that I would love to have, but I have not been able to find a set that is for sale.  I’ve seen two different sets that are just beautiful, but they were not parting with them.  And, there’s a lot of valuable things in the county.  Mr. Ben Gaines, who owns the Pence Gaines Furniture Store down here, has an old pistol that was owned by one of the Ridgewater boys, who had the gang after the civil war, and one of the boys was killed in the ( ) hotel, which was the building that houses the Pence Gaines Furniture Company now.  And, that would be valuable to have here, too.  We’d like to have it. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes); why sleigh bells?  Why a special interest in the sleigh bells? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, because in the early days, the way they travelled was by sleigh, and when these bells were made, they probably were made by hand.  And, a handmade brass bell is really valuable…. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Dunn: Something to be proud of, if you can find them. 

Ms. Fraas: How long have you been a resident of Stanford? 

Mrs. Dunn: Since 1942.   

Ms. Fraas: Where…. 

Mrs. Dunn: My husband’s job brought us to Lincoln County, but we both grew up in Grant County.  We moved here from Corbin.  We lived in Corbin about two years, on the job and when the job changed…he was a railway postal clerk, and this was the end of the line at that time.  So, it was practical for us to move here.  And, after he retired, we owned our home and liked it here and stayed. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Dunn: None of my family is here, though.  The children are all away. 

Ms. Fraas: Why have you taken such a special interest in Lincoln County history?  What’s…what’s unique about Lincoln County? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, it was one of the first counties; one of three counties that would make it of interest.  And, when I came here, I was invited to belong to the historical society, and they talked a lot about Lincoln County, and I would ask them, where could I find that information, where are there books on it, and they said, there are none.  And, I realized Lincoln County was losing history because of that fact.  And I started collecting newspaper items that people in the historical society had written, that I felt were fine historians, and just for my own benefit and for my DAR Chapter, you’re just collecting the history, and it just grew.  It’s kind of  {    } and it grows. 

Ms. Fraas: How many books have you written about Lincoln County, and what are their titles? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, this book…the first book that I did, I didn’t actually write much of it.  As I say, it was a collection of articles that had been written by historians.  And, then I copied everything pertaining to Lincoln County from Collins’ history, and when I started it, they had not recopied Collins.  So, they are available today, but you could not buy one new.  I’ve lost my train of thought. 

Ms. Fraas: The number of books… 

Mrs. Dunn: Oh, yes; and, that one is called Early History on Lincoln County and it is written by a good many historians.  And, then, I became interested in the old homes of the county.  And for my same DAR to make a program for it at one time, I started writing stories on some of these old homes and taking photographs of them.  And, friends encouraged me to have that printed too, and I did.  Then, the third one, my husband and I together have copied the inscriptions from every cemetery in the county that we have been able to find.  I have copied the marriage records from the courthouse, and indexed the brides.  And, a lady from St. Louis was working in the courthouse one day and she asked me questions about it, and I told her it had been copied but hadn’t been published, and after she went home, she wrote and asked me…said she would like to publish them.  So, that’s the only one that’s actually been published.  The others have been printed and I sold them. 

Ms. Fraas: How did you go about getting this information; for example, the marriage records? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, I do quite a lot of research in the courthouse.  People write here for copies of these old records, and clerks do not have time to do it.  And, they turn these requests over to me so I am very familiar with the records there and I copy records for people all over the United States.  And, I realized from most any courthouse that you would visit, if you didn’t know who Aunt Mary married, her last name, you couldn’t find her marriage record.  So, I just decided it would be a good idea to index the brides. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Dunn: And, I had access to the courthouse, and they don’t object to me working there.  And, so, that’s how come me to do those marriage records.  Anybody can go there and find the marriage record.  But, as I say, if you don’t know the brides’ name, you can’t find it by that record.  So, those have been published by a lady in St. Louis. 

Ms. Fraas: What period of time did you look at the brides’ names? 

Mrs. Dunn: These records are from 1780 to 1850.  And, Mrs. Griffith felt like it would make the book too bulky to do them after 1850.  But, I have them indexed here in this library on my own, to 1900.  And, now Mrs. Griffith wants to do another book on the 1850 census of Lincoln County, and the brides from 1850 to 1900.  We’ll probably do that in the fall. 





Ms. Fraas: There are quite a few cemetery records in Lincoln County.  How did you go about locating those cemeteries? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, I began by just copying the ones that I could see from driving over the highways.  And, then, in the sort of research that I sort of do through the courthouse, I would learn that there were cemeteries on many of the farms.  For instance, many of the old Wills would mention setting aside so much land for a cemetery and that helps, too.  And, when you talk to different people, they will tell you of farms…of their farm that has a cemetery on it. Anybody that didn’t know the county completely would have no way of knowing where they were, because they are back off the road, and many of them are so overgrown that you can’t get to them, hardly.  But, several times people would tell me, yes, there’s one over on the back of my place, but it must be a mile back there; you don’t want to go back there.  And, I wear comfortable clothes and comfortable shoes and I walk a mile, many times, to property. 

Ms. Fraas: Where are some of the…what are and where are some of the earliest graveyards in Lincoln County? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, some of the earliest graves are right here in Buffalo Springs Cemetery, the main cemetery here in Stanford.  

Ms. Fraas: What are some of the dates on those? 

Mrs. Dunn: Oh, they go back to 1700’s, many of them. 

Ms. Fraas: Um…. 

Mrs. Dunn: Of course, Benjamin Logan, that we sort of keep on a pedestal, because of what he has done for Lincoln County, is not here.  He left here and moved to Shelby County.  And, our DAR Chapter has visited the grave there, though; made a pilgrimage.  And, we found the stone was…had been…a part of it had been overturned.  And, a Presbyterian preacher, and another lady, and I, who was about as hefty as I am, placed it back where it belongs.  I hope it’s still there.  But, many people will…have become interested in it.  And, more people are becoming interested all the time.  In fact the state historical society has a project now, trying to copy the inscriptions on every cemetery in the state of Kentucky, if possible.  They are making good headway getting it done. 

Ms. Fraas: These family cemeteries out in the county, what are some of the characteristics of a family cemetery; you know, what dates, and what do they look like? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, many of them will have a group of fieldstones to one side of the main stones, and we realized that those were graves of the slaves.  There’s no dates on them at all; just a fieldstone to let you know that there is a grave there.  But, the most of them do have stones with inscriptions that are…well, it’s possible to read them, if you know how to do it.  We take a wire brush and chalk and flour, and a wire brush will take away a good bit of the corrosion that is formed there, and then by sprinkling a little flour or a little chalk on it, they are very legible and easy. 

Ms. Fraas: Sprinkle it right over the tombstone? 

Mrs. Dunn: Uh huh (yes), right over the lettering.  Now, if it’s an old stone that’s lying flat, you sprinkle it right on it.  If it’s one that is upright, then you have to use chalk, because you can’t do much sprinkling on a stone that’s standing up. 

Ms. Fraas: Have you found any inscriptions on some of these fieldstones, or some of the tombstones, that would be unusual? 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes, but when I started copying them, I was genealogical reference chairman for the DAR in Kentucky, and they didn’t ask us to do those, because they had hoped to get so many that it would be too big a job, and all they were interested in, was just dates.  And, that’s really all I have concentrated on. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Dunn: I found one, out in the Goshen neighborhood, that’s a little unusual.  And, I don’t know if I can quote it or not; “where you are now, so once was I”…no, I can’t quote it.  But, anyway, in other words, I’d been where you are and you’re going where I am now.  I’m sorry, I can’t quote it.  That’s the most unusual one that I had ever found in this county. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Dunn: But, many of them do have an inscription, gone to rest or gone to God or something like that.  But, since I started doing it, and it was not requested for the work that I was doing, I did not start doing…copying in the inscriptions. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes); you work with a lot of old records in the county; are these on microfilm now, or what kind of shape are the records in, and when you first started working? 

Mrs. Dunn: Most of our records are on microfilm.  They were filmed several years ago by the Mormons, and they wanted them for their use, of course.  But, to be able to copy them, they gave us a copy.  They are in the bank vault.  Lincoln County, as a county, does not have a microfilm reader.  The library here, has a fine microfilm reader and printer.  And, I went to the Fiscal Court and asked them if we could use them and they wouldn’t let me have them.  And, they said, well, we are afraid something might happen to them.  And, I said, well, if something should happen to them, you can still buy them from the Mormons.  And, they said, well, if you can buy them, why don’t you buy them for the library?  And, I said, well, I didn’t think it made good sense to spend tax money for something that we’ve already got.  But, they still wouldn’t let me have them.  Our books are in real good order, in good condition, except for the age of them, and they have to be handled very carefully, for they are deteriorating to some extent.  But, I have worked with several people who have come in here from other states and they are very complimentary of our books, the way they have been kept and the condition they are still in.  There are a few that have been frayed, and if you were to microfilm a page, you wouldn’t get all of the page, but, for the most part, they are intact.  And, the records start from 1780 when Lincoln became a county.  And, many of the records of Boyle and Mercer and Christian and Todd and all those Southwestern States (sic) are right here in Lincoln County, because, at that time, they were Lincoln County.  They’re counties were all cut away later. 

Ms. Fraas: What kind of requests for genealogical research comes to Lincoln County? 

Mrs. Dunn: A lot of people who are working on membership into the DAR.  Anymore, it’s become harder to become a member of the DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution, and they require photocopies of the proof.  So, we get a lot of requests for marriages and Wills and even for deeds; lots of times a deed will tell you more than you would realize, where the family came from, or who the parent was that deeded this land.  Even the deeds are very valuable genealogically. 

Ms. Fraas: Were there a lot of early settlers who served in the Revolutionary War in Lincoln County? 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes, we have…we have tried to get a list.  We’ve got a bronze tablet that we…that our DAR erected during the bicentennial, on the courthouse, and there’s ninety names on that.  But, now, that doesn’t mean that ninety men who were living in Lincoln County at the time of the Revolution, but they moved here from Virginia and Maryland and West Virginia, after the Revolution was over.  And, we know there is at least ninety, and, occasionally, I run across a new one to add to them. 

Ms. Fraas: What do you need to know before you go researching someone’s background; say they are trying to enter the DAR?  What do you try to do first?   

Mrs. Dunn: Well, I usually try to tell them to write down all they know.  In teaching a class on genealogy, we encourage them to write everything down that they hear, talk to grandmother, and everything she tells you, write it down.  And, then we tell you…we tell them if they pick up a record anywhere, be sure they write down where it was found, where it was in Lincoln County Court, whether it was grandmother’s Bible, whether it was a conversation with Aunt Mary, or whatever their source is.  And, when they go as far as they can, then we go to the Court records.  It gets to be quite a task, sometimes. 

Ms. Fraas: You’ve done a lot of research on old homes here in Lincoln County.   When was the Whitley home restored?  Was that before you came, or afterwards? 

Mrs. Dunn: No, that was after I came.  It was sort of kept…they had a Whitley Association that actually owned it, and the DAR sort of halfway took care of it and we would go there for pilgrimages and things of that sort.  But, it was after I came here that the state actually paid the Association for it and took it over and made it into a state shrine.   

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Dunn: I could find the dates that it was opened up to the public again, but I don’t have it in my mind. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Dunn: To begin with, different organizations and private citizens started to refurnishing it, and then after the state bought it, of course, we didn’t need to do any of that sort of thing, and the state has furnished it completely. There are a few items there that were in the Whitley family, but for the most part, they have been purchased just for that period. 

Ms. Fraas: You were in charge of the bicentennial celebration. 

Mrs. Dunn: I was co-chairman. 

Ms. Fraas: Co-chairman; could you tell me about how you…who your other chairman was and how you planned… 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes, it was Reverend Robert Giezentanner who was the Presbyterian minister here at that time (1972-75).  He has since moved to Tennessee. 

Ms. Fraas: What kind of celebration did you have here in Lincoln County in 1970? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, we had a good many projects.  One of the celebrations…one of the things that was done, was erecting this plaque that I mentioned, of the Revolutionary soldiers.  That was done by our DAR chapter.  And, then, different organizations had their own little project.  And, we had to…we wound up with a parade that, I guess, was the largest they’ve ever had in Stanford.  Many people from all over the county and out of the county participated in that.  In the meantime, we kept a record of all the projects that was going on and we put it into a scrapbook, and had that scrapbook laminated.  So, if anybody is interested and has an hour or so to go over the old scrapbook, you can pretty well tell what we did during the bicentennial.  One thing that we started during the bicentennial that’s just been finished, we have a local artist…I mean, he was born and reared here…he lives in California now and makes his living as an artist, his name is Tommy Wright, he was the son of Dr. Julian Wright here, and we wrote and asked him if he would paint a portrait of Benjamin Logan for us, and he did.  And, in the meantime, Mr. Giezentanner moved away and the project sort of bogged down, but this spring, that portrait has been framed and hung in the Harvey Helm Library.  That’s where the Historical Society holds all of their meetings.  That’s the latest thing that we’ve done that was a result of the bicentennial. 

Ms. Fraas: How did he draw the portrait?  What did he rely upon? 

Mrs. Dunn: I had heard that there is a portrait of him at the Filson Club.  And, we have a history book here that has a small portrait of him, and the one behind you right there, my grandson made a copy from that scrapbook…from that old history book, for me, to hang here.  And, Tommy had access to that portrait, and he did a lot of research.  And, the portrait that he did, I guess you might say, was sort of copied from that.  That’s the only known photograph that we have of Benjamin Logan.  The one on the left there is William Whitley, of course, and the other one is Isaac Shelby.  And, when we think of a giant in pioneer history, we think of those three men as Lincoln County Patriots and we felt like their portraits should hang here too. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes); if you don’t mind, for a moment, I’d like to ask  you some questions about your own background and how you have developed this great interest in research and  history.  Where were  you born? 

Mrs. Dunn: I was born in Grant County.  My father was a little country doctor, and we lived in the southern tip of the county.  He practiced medicine in Pendleton, Harrison, Scott, Owen and Grant.  We were that near to the borders of all those counties.  That’s where his practice was. 

Ms. Fraas: Do you have memories of your father’s profession; what it was like being a doctor? 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes; he graduated from college in 1885 and started practicing immediately.  That was his home community where he grew up and he practiced there all his life.  He didn’t even learn to drive an automobile until he was past sixty.  When he first started, he rode horseback, and carried saddle pockets.  And, then, later on, he drove a buggy.  And, I went with him, many, many times as a youngster.  And, then, after my mother died in 1930, our family moved in with him.  My husband was working out of Cincinnati at the time, and I never let him make a call at night alone.  I always went with him and drove the car for him on the calls. 

Ms. Fraas: What was your father’s name? 

Mrs. Dunn: Limerick; very Irish, Robert Limerick. 

Ms. Fraas: Where did he go to college? 

Mrs. Dunn: Cincinnati…Cincinnati Medical School, I think, was the name.  That’s the best of my recollection. 

Ms. Fraas: What kind of equipment did your father have to work with? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, he, of course, was not a surgeon, but, he did do a little surgery.  But, his old saddle pockets carried the pills.  He’d make house calls and took the medicine with him.  And, he built him an office in the corner of the yard, but it wasn’t very practical for him to use it as an office, so our living room became his office.  And, he wrote very, very few prescriptions; just almost none.  He kept the medicine that he prescribed and gave out there in the home and gave it to them that way.  Doctors, anymore, write a prescription.  They don’t have any medicine at all. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes); did he make up his own medicine or… 

Mrs. Dunn: No, he didn’t.  Oh, he might make an ointment or something of that sort, but we had…they called them drummers in those days, from the pharmaceutical houses, that visited him regularly, and they would mail the medicine to him. 

Ms. Fraas: What were some of the cases that would call your father out?  Do you recall any in your mind, some of the times you accompanied him? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, maternity cases, of course.  Nobody in those days, in the community where I lived, ever went to the hospital to have a baby.  They’d call him and he’d go to the home and deliver the child there.  And, it got to the point where, I went with him at night, but if they needed to call him in the daytime, they would say, can you bring Shirley, too.  But, I…I was never a nurse, but I…. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you lend a hand? 

Mrs. Dunn: Oh, yes, sure.  Most housewives, those days knew me…neighbors…I’ve been here a long time.  I was born in 1900.   

Ms. Fraas: Did you attend school in Grant County? 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes. 

Ms. Fraas: How far did you go in school? 

Mrs. Dunn: Corinth…Corinth High School; and I married instead of going to college. 

Ms. Fraas: And, you have a bag in the museum that belonged to your father? 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes, that was my father’s bag.  And, he was not sick very long; I would say six weeks or so, and he carried that bag on his rounds up until the time he died.  And, then, after his death, we were dividing up personal things, and I mentioned to the other children, that I would like to have dad’s old saddle pockets, and my oldest brother said, well, nobody else wants them, we think you’ve earned them. 

Ms. Fraas: How many brothers and sisters did you have? 

Mrs. Dunn: There were six of us.  I only had one sister and four brothers.  But, I’m the last living. 

Ms. Fraas: How was your father paid when he visited…was it always by money or…. 

Mrs. Dunn: He brought back pullets or chicken.  Of course he got some money, too.  But, we felt like he was the poorest of bookkeepers.  Usually Sunday afternoons…he went to church regularly Sunday mornings.  Sunday afternoons he’d post his books, and we know he didn’t remember half of the calls that he made all that week.  Oh, for some people, they wouldn’t have it any other way, except to pay him, but if they didn’t have the money, he went anyway.  There was no question of that.  Now, I think it was that way with most country doctors in those days. 

Ms. Fraas: Do you recall the depression? 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes. 

Ms. Fraas: Were you in Grant County then? 

 Mrs. Dunn: I was in Grant County then.  My husband had been in the mail service.  In fact we married soon after he was employed as a Railway Postal Clerk.  And, in the thirties – no, before the thirties, we had moved back to Grant County and was farming.  He had a regular run on the railroad at that time, and the way they worked those days, they worked six days and off eight.  And, that way, he could do some farming.  So, we had a little farm.  But, during the thirties and that depression he had to go back to the mail service.  And, that was the time when I was living with my father.  Part of the time, he ran the farm and worked on the railroad too, but he was working for the government riding the railroad, though. 

(tape goes off, then back on) 

Mrs. Dunn: Flu…a part of the time, my father had another doctor that came in and practiced with him, but at this time, he was alone and was the only doctor in that end of the county.  And, he just went day and night on those kinds of cases, because of the flu.  And, I had a brother that was older than I, that could take your pulse and could read a thermometer, and dad had so many cases that he could not make them all as often as he felt like they needed attention, and he’d send this brother of mine to do that, and then he’d come back and report what the pulse was…. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Dunn: What the temperature was.  But, of course, he never issued any medicine.  But, those were busy days. 






Ms. Fraas: Did anyone in your family come down with the flu? 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes, I had it so badly that they didn’t think I was going to come out of it.  But, I was the only one in the family that did have it that year. 

Ms. Fraas: Did a lot of people die of the flu? 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes, we lost a lot of cases during that time. 

Ms. Fraas: What could you do…. 

Mrs. Dunn: Well… 

Ms. Fraas: To relieve the flu? 

Mrs. Dunn: That was back in 1918 and they didn’t have the antibiotics that we use today, they didn’t know how to treat it.  All they could do was just keep them comfortable and do the best they could.  There wasn’t much they could do, if they had a real severe case of it.  And, it was very contagious, too. 

Ms. Fraas: Did they try to quarantine people? 

Mrs. Dunn: No, not in our community, they didn’t.  In fact, I went into the home of an aunt.  They were all down, but two girls younger than I, and I went and stayed several days and helped them take care of the sick ones and did a lot of the cooking.  But, I don’t think I took it from that occasion.  I took it later.  I didn’t have it until up in February.  It was just in the air.  You could have just took it anywhere. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Dunn: Some people, though, were afraid to go into it, and some families did suffer because they didn’t have any help.  People were afraid to go in and help out. 

Ms. Fraas: There were a lot of servicemen that suffered from the flu also, weren’t there? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, yes.  There were no deaths from our community from it, that I ever heard of.  My husband was in the service about that time. 

Ms. Fraas: That was before you were married, right? 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes. 

Ms. Fraas: Was there any age group in particular that the flu seemed to hit? 

Mrs. Dunn: No, I don’t think so.  I would have been about eighteen when I had it, and an uncle of mine that died, was, oh, I guess, he was sixty, so I don’t think there was any particular age group.  There was a young mother that died with it, but I think it was…rather than her age, it was due to the fact that she was pregnant and they did lose some others that were pregnant at that time. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you ever become involved in politics? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, not very deeply.  My father was a Republican, but my husband was a Democrat, and I didn’t pay very much attention to politics until after we were married and I was just the age to be interested in it, and so, I became a Democrat.  But, I’ve never run for an office or anything of that sort, but I do serve as an election officer and I serve as campaign chairman in the family a few times.  That was just average, I think. 

Ms. Fraas: You mentioned you are a member of the DAR.  What is your background in…you have a revolutionary soldier obviously…. 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes, yes. 

Ms. Fraas: Who was that? 

Mrs. Dunn: My revolutionary soldier was William Robinson and he served in Virginia.  And, an odd thing about this Robinson family, before I became interested in tracing my family back this far, there was…the Robinsons in Grant County had a family reunion every day…every year, and at one of these reunions, they made ribbons for us to wear, and the direct descendants from the Robinson’s wore a blue ribbon, but if we married into that family, we had to wear a red ribbon.  I wore the red ribbon.  And, then, when I became interested in tracing my family, I went in on the same William Robinson that my husband’s family belonged to…. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Dunn: Now, my…William Robinson’s daughter was my ancestor and one of William Robinson’s sons was my husband’s ancestor.  So, if we had had another reunion of that sort, I could have worn the blue ribbon. 

Ms. Fraas: Then, the Limerick name, where…. 

Mrs. Dunn: It’s Irish, and I have a cousin who went to Ireland last year to try to trace the family there, but he didn’t have any luck.  He was not an experienced researcher for one thing.  I was glad he had the trip, but he didn’t find out very much.  We don’t know very much about the Limerick family before it came to America.  Insofar as I have been able to find out, that was around 1790.  They were not here during the Revolution. 

Ms. Fraas: When you think of Kentucky, what does it…what does it mean to be a Kentuckian?  What are some of the…you’ve studied its history; you’ve studied the people who live here and their backgrounds. 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, I don’t know whether I could do much on that or not.  Of course, I’m not an experienced traveler, but I have travelled in a good many of the different states.  And, I’ve been in New York, and I’ve been to California.  And, to me, when I got back to Kentucky, it was just coming home.  And, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any scenery in any of the states that is more beautiful than our own Kentucky.  Of course, the Rocky Mountains are majestic and I loved seeing them, but the Kentucky is varied.  We have so many distinct areas that are entirely different.  In some of the meetings that I attend, people will ask me, what part of Kentucky do you live in, and I say, I live in the Bluegrass, but I can see the knobs, and I love the looks of the knobs and hills. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Dunn: And, those areas are entirely different to me…mean something different to different people, I should think. 

Ms. Fraas: Why do you think Benjamin Logan settled here and made his early fort here? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, I think it was a new land, and it seems to me that all during those years, that people were restless, and even before the revolution, they were making an effort to branch out and to come West.  I think a lot of them were just adventurers.  And, to me, it’s amazing in going over these old deeds and finding out how much they travelled to have such poor transportation as they had.   But, they come from Virginia and they’d settle here a few years and then they’d move on.  Of course, that’s the way the West was opened, was the people from the East travelling West.  But, in tracing land and deeds, it’s just amazing to me how much…and their whole family, would just pull up and go…the whole bunch, and not many of them had covered wagons.  They just maybe came in carts like the one we think we have the wheel here. 

Ms. Fraas: Is there anything that you would like to add now that you can recall about some of the work you’ve done here or…. 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, sitting in this home that belonged to Mary Bruce Helm and knowing what she did for us to have a library, and how we struggled to have a library before she made it possible by demanding that we vote a tax, I think all Lincoln Countians should be forever grateful to her for her contribution.  We…the women’s club deserves a lot of credit for struggling with the library but, it was such a small library that…and we had no hopes of making it much better, until we realized that we just had to have a tax.  And I don’t know of any of us that would have ever had the courage to do it, if we hadn’t been left this home, if we got a tax, and realizing that we had to get out and work for our tax or lose this building that could become a nice library for us…we just got to work on it. 

Ms. Fraas: You mentioned that the first tax vote was defeated? 

Mrs. Dunn: Yes, it was. 

Ms. Fraas: How did you go about trying to change people’s minds, on the second vote? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, we visited every school, we visited every organization in the county that would let us come. 

Ms. Fraas: Was this the women’s club or what in particular? 

Mrs. Dunn: Well, library board, mostly, by that time.  We had an established library board here, because we were affiliated with the State Department of Libraries.  They had brought us what they called the demonstration library, and one of the workers there came, met with us in our meetings and they brought all these books, and we got the bookmobile, and we were to have that demonstration for two years.  And, then, if we had not voted the tax, or had not made plans for a permanent library, we were to lose it…lose the books they had brought us.  So, I told the board one night, that our two years was up and I had been told by Frankfort that if we did not vote that tax, that they would have to come and get the books.  And, they realized that we had to go to work and we did, so that’s how it happened. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes).  You mentioned Mary Bruce Helm, and I noticed two flags from the Helm family.  Could you tell me a little bit about those, that you have here in the museum? 

Mrs. Dunn: I have a flag on a staff…on the stairway at the top of the steps, that I found here in her attic, after she was gone, and it has 48 stripes…48 stars in it, and I know it was the flag that she used here.  And, the sister that took the personal things didn’t care for it, so I was happy to have it and keep it right here.  The other one is a large United States Flag that flew over the Capitol and was given to Harvey Helm when he was representative in Washington.  It has his name printed on the back of it.  And, we like to keep it here, because she loved it and kept it here.  It…I’m sure it just has 48 stars, too, because he served in Washington during 1916, in those years, so it has to be a 48 star flag too.  But, I felt like they needed to be left right here in this home. 

(end of tape two, side one) 



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