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THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF
CAPT. STEPHEN B. HANKS,

 

Family History cont.

April 16, 1921
 

Publication of this Pioneer River History started in our issue dated March 26, 1921. We can furnish numbers back to that date to new subscribers.

There were not many schools in those days and the only one I recall in Kentucky was in our neighborhood and perhaps one and one half miles from our home. Like other buildings it was built of logs, with a large fire-place built of rocks, or stones, and a chimney of sticks and mud chinking on the outside of the building. The benches were made of logs split in half, the hewn side up and the legs driven in the round part. These were called ďpunhcherousĒ and were of different heights to accommodate the children of different ages and were arranged about the fire-place to give the most comfort to the children. The teacherís desk was in one corner and reaching from his desk along the side of the room, opposite the fire-place, was a long counter like desk, or table, far enough from the wall so the pupils could use both sizes of it for writing. The schoolhouse was located in a beautiful spot and near one of the finest springs of cold water I ever saw. The route by road from was a long way around, so for convenience of our family a path was made direct across our place, a part of it perhaps a half-mile, being through the timber, which had to be trimmed to make a passable route. The only Teacher I ever knew was named Scott. He was a lame man and considered an excellent teacher. One Christmas day the boys concluded to lock him out. He was ahead of them however, and locked himself in. The boys got on the roof and put a board over the top of the chimney and smoked him out. The outcome was quite pleasant as we had a feast of cider, apples cakes and other nick nacks from the homes and, for the first time in my life I had some ďstore candyĒ.


When my brother David was a year or perhaps a year and a half old, my parents went over the Ohio river to visit relatives in Indiana and Illinois and were gone quite a long time. I well remember the day they started. It was in winter and they went on horseback. The horses were fine animals outfitted with new saddles and trappings. The thing most vivid in my mind was a glossy morocco cap David wore. As they disappeared from sight I grieved as through they were gone forever. I now have an impression that on this trip they went to the Lincolnís as it was about at that time that Abraham Lincolnís mother died and as we were about the only relatives in that section it seems reasonable to me that they went there during their absence.


While they were away the young people, had several frolics at our place. At one of them some of the girls constructed a horseís head out of some white material and during the evening the door opened and in came, apparently, a large white horse with huge eyes, with mouth opening and closing and immense care wagging back and forth, a very startling apparition. This had an unexpected effect on my three-year-old sister who promptly fainted. This brought an end to all the fun and the incident has always remained with me. Many of the amusements that were popular at gatherings in those days would be novelties to young people today. One was the singing of songs, many of which would be original. One of these was abut the doctor and went something like this;

     
  Physicians of the highest rank,
To pay your fees we need a bank
Combined all wisdom, art and skill,
Science and sense and calo mine!

He takes his patient by the hand
And compliments them as a friend:
ďI think your husband would do well
to take a dose of Calo trel.
(The third verse has escaped my memory.)

The patient now grows worse full fast
His days are gone, his time is past
His soul is winged to heaven or hell
All by the fumes of calo mel.
 


Among the different classes of stock on the place, at least during the last years of my fatherís life there, was a large drove of mules, a hundred or more. They had been turned into the came brakes for the winter but fresets(?) from the Ohio had over flown the low land and the mules were driven to the high lands where they were fed at the farm yards, Corm was placed in a long string of troughs made from hollow gum logs. When fed the mules would kick and bite each other, as is their habit. At one feeding father went in amongst them and was kicked. I saw him fall and saw the negro man with him lift or help him into the cart and take him to the house. From that time he was never a well man and as he died within a year from that time I am satisfied this accident was the real cause of his death, which occurred in the spring of the year, but I cannot tell the year.


The incident of his death and burial are a clear picture in my mind. I was sent on a horse to carry t he news to the neighbors and friends and procure assistance in making necessary preparations for the funeral.

The negro domestics on the place were all apparently as grief stricken as any of the members of the family and in fact much more demonstrative. My fatherís remains were buried on the premises not far from the outer end of the rope walk, already mentioned, and near a cluster of large trees, upon a high point of ground.


After my fatherís death we remained for a time at the old home, my oldest brother directing the farm work. We must have been there between one and two years. During this time my oldest sister Harriet E. married James Walker a young physician living with his mother. She came from England and was also a physician and attended my father in his last illness.

There was a wedding after the custom of that time and country. The modern custom of sending invitations far and wide with the expectation of receiving many presents was not then known, but there was a large company of guests, and the young people had a proper setting from their parents. My sister went with her husband to her new home at his motherís, I spent a short time with her at that place and remember that mother and son practiced together in the surrounding country.


During the time we resided on the old place after fatherís death the personal property was all sold, including the slaves, and it was a sad time when they had to go. There was much weeping and lamenting among us all and I cannot tell how it came about, but a man named Lacey moved on to our place and we moved to a place where he was in Hopkins county, adjoining Christian county, and not far away.


This new home was much different from the old one. We were now in a land of hills and valleys with rocks and ledges, even perpendicular cliffs, one near by being of great height from whose top, reached y a circuitous route, and extended view of the region could be had. Most of the country was heavily timbered and there was much game, fox hunting being one of the popular sports. Our stay in this place was short, less than a year I think. We had raised a crop but it was not all harvested or housed and I can remember that when we went from there the corn was still standing in the field.


One incident about this time made a lasting impression on me. At a near by town we went to see a family of twelve boys born at six births. They were doublers on exhibition and were the recipients of many presents from merchants and others. I remember they were dressed in regulation jeans with caps of uniform appearance.

 
     

Collected and Transcribed by

Georgeann McClure

 

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