Friday, December 9, 2016

When Bonnie & Clyde Came To Town

Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were two notorious depression era gangsters who went on a crime spree that left more than a dozen dead. Their bloody trail came to an end when a group of lawmen from Texas and Louisiana ambushed them as they drove their stolen 1934 Ford Deluxe along a rural highway near Sailes, Louisiana on May 23, 1934. By the time of their deaths, the two fugitives had captured the imagination of many Americans. They were larger-than-life in part because they often posed for photographs like Hollywood stars.

Their notoriety was still drawing large crowds around the country three years later when the 1934 Ford Deluxe made a national tour as part of an anti-crime initiative. The "Death Car" as it was dubbed in the Providence Daily Enterprise came to Providence, Kentucky on July 28, 1937 and was on display at the Sugg & Company showroom. The local Ford dealer sponsored the car's exhibition free to the public. In addition, Everett Fillingham and C. Wiley Stanley, nationally known lecturers on Bonnie and Clyde's crime career, accompanied the car and discussed what happened on that rural highway and answered questions from the public.

Whether the car's national tour deterred crime is difficult to quantify. However, local citizens who viewed the car, still described the event with excited voices a half century later. 

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Big Harp Meets Frontier Justice

Located  A Few Miles
North Of Dixon,
Webster County, Kentucky
On Highway 41A

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Tradewater Genealogical Research Blog

Monday, October 31, 2016

WWII Brings Changes In Acknowledgement Of Women's Contributions

Throughout the majority of World War II the Providence Journal-Enterprise newspaper recognized the service of local residents serving in the military in a column entitled, "In The Service Of Our Country". The majority of the county residents recognized in the column were men.

However, the column was renamed in the March 22, 1945 issue of the paper. It was in that issue that the publisher, J.L. Bradley, changed the column's name to: "News Of Our Men and Women In Uniform". 

The title better reflected the contributions of residents of Webster County, Kentucky and the nation at large. That issue of the paper gave no explanation or fanfare for the change of the column's name. 

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Sebree Native Serves As Radio Operator For Two Byrd Expeditions

When people are asked who were the Americans that explored Antarctica in the 1930's most respondents would only be able to name Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr. After all he is the only one recognized in the history books for this achievement. However, if you delight in knowing and reporting forgotten facts, then tell those who can only identify Byrd as one of those explorers that a native of Webster County, Kentucky played a key role in Byrd's 1934 and 1939 expeditions.

Clay Wilson Bailey was born in Sebree, Webster County, Kentucky on March 8, 1906 to Gratz and Byrnie Wilson Bailey. By the time he was four years old, the family had moved to Oklahoma. Just before his twelfth birthday, his father died on February 23, 1917. His mother remarried and moved the family to Texas.

In 1934 Bailey was selected to serve as the chief radio operator for Byrd's second expedition to the Antarctic.  It was during this expedition, that Bailey and  William Bowlin's plane was forced down 15 miles from Little America. Their rescue was led by Byrd and they were found sleeping inside their fur sleeping bags in a small tent. It was on this expedition in recognition of his contributions to the endeavor, that Clay Bailey was given the honor of having a mountain named for him. Mt. Bailey stands 4,470 feet high and is located south of Anthony Glacier. 

During Bailey's second expedition with Byrd in December of 1939, he sent a radiogram to his grandmother, Mrs. Henry C. Bailey, in Sebree. In the radiogram he told his grandmother he would be spending Christmas in New Zealand. During the war years, Bailey served as Lt, Commander in the United States Navy. 

Clay Wilson Bailey died on January 21, 1994 in Sedona, Arizona. 

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

First Air Mail Flights In South Occurred In Providence, Kentucky

During July of 1912, Providence, Kentucky became the first city in the South to have air mail flights. They were part of the activities of the Providence Fair. Pilot Horace Kearny was sworn in as a letter carrier by Postmaster Robert W.Hunter.  He was given a pouch containing around 300 postcards at the aerial post office at the  fairgrounds by Miss Ethel Dodds, deputy postmaster. The special postcards were dropped over the post office in the town's business section.

The air mail delivery from the fairgrounds is thought to be among the first four in the nation. The first official air mail route in the United States was not established until May 15, 1918. 

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Transportation On The Rails From Providence, Kentucky

In 1934 trains were still running from Providence to many locations around the nation. In the February 24, 1934 Twice-A-Week Providence Enterprise the L&N Railroad advertised the following coach class fares from Providence:

Madisonville, Ky  $0.26
Morganfield, Ky   $0.39
Hopkinsville, Ky   $0.79
Nashville, TN        $1.87
Birmingham, Al    $4.96
Henderson, Ky      $0.85
Evansville, IN        $1.15
St. Louis, MO         $3.71

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Webster County Man Was Youngest Member Of 1934 Kentucky General Assembly

The Twice-A-Week Providence Enterprise reported on January 12, 1934 that Marion T. McCarthy was the youngest member of the 1934 Kentucky General Assembly. He had just recently reached the constitutional age for membership, which was 24. Before entering politics, he was a school teacher at Blackford, Kentucky. 

Mr. McCarthy served in the legislature until he unsuccessfully ran for a state senate seat in 1937. While in the house, he sponsored or co-sponsored legislation that increased the old age pension and a bill to reduce the automobile licenses fees. In April of 1936, McCarthy, a Democrat,  and John B. Mollette, a Republican, got into a physical altercation on the house floor when an income tax bill was being discussed. McCarthy landed a blow to Mollette's jaw and Mollette responded by pulling a gun. Certain tragedy was averted by the quick actions of Governor Chandler's bodyguard, who disarmed Mollette.

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Providence High School Graduate Released From Japanese Prison Camp

Rosa May Butler
Class Of 1928
Providence High School
Providence, Webster County, Kentucky
Rosa May Butler was born on September 16, 1911 in Buenos Aries, Argentina to James Barney and May Atkins Williams Butler. Her father was a Methodist Missionary. In January of 1916, when Rosa was  four years old, the family moved from Argentina to Christian County, Kentucky, her father's birthplace. The family suffered a tragic loss on March 21, 1917, when James Barney Butler died of Tuberculosis in El Paso, Texas. 

By 1920, May had married Joseph L. Barker, a Christian County doctor. Joseph brought three children into the marriage who became step-siblings to Rosa and her younger sister, Grace Dorothy Butler. By 1928, the family had moved to Providence in Webster County, Kentucky.

Rosa attended Providence High School her senior year and was quite active in school activities. She was in the dramatic club, acted in the senior play, was a member of the glee club and commercial club. In addition, she was president of the Spanish Club. Her nickname was, "Aunt Martha" and her motto was: "Truth is the highest thing that one may keep."

The family remained in Providence through the 1930 census. However, by December of 1930, they had moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It was there on December 4, 1930, that Dr. Barker died of a stroke. The family remained in Oklahoma City, where both Rosa and Grace attended Oklahoma City College. In 1932, both were members of the college's Oxford Fellowship, a national organization for those planning on entering the ministry.

After her time at Oklahoma, Rosa entered missionary work and by 1943 she was head of the music department of the McTyer School For Girls in Shanghai, China. The school was supported by the Louisville Conference Women's Society of Christian Service of the Methodist Church. 

The November 18, 1943 edition of the Providence Journal-Enterprise reported the news of Rosa May Butler's release from a Japanese Prison Camp after many months of deprivation and captivity. Rosa reported that the arrival of the Swedish ship that would bring her and her fellow 1500 captives home was the most beautiful sight she had ever seen.

Rosa died in 1961 and was buried in Riverside Cemetery in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The following is a find-a-grave link to her memorial.

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Webster County's Last Applicant For A Kentucky Confederate Widow's Pension

Mary Frances Keller Webb
October 12, 1870 - March 5, 1957
Slover Cemetery Near Dixon, Kentucky
Mary Frances Keller Webb was born on October 12, 1870 in Webster County, Kentucky to Joseph and Virginia Robinson Keller. She married William David Webb on August 21, 1898 at Lisman, Webster County, Kentucky. William David Webb, a native of North Carolina,  had served in Company K of the 2nd Tennessee Infantry of the Confederate Army during the Civil War. His service made him eligible for a pension from the state of Kentucky for honorably discharged confederate soldiers. He received his pension until his death in Providence, Webster County, Kentucky on March 12, 1925.

Based on William David Webb's service, Mary filed for a Widow's Indigent Pension on September 13, 1938 and was allowed a pension on March 29, 1939. Thus making her the last confederate widow to file from Webster County, Kentucky. Her pension was allowed almost 74 years after the war ended. Mary received her pension until her death on March 5, 1957 in a nursing home at Dawson Springs, Hopkins County, Kentucky.

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Tradewater Genealogical Research Blog 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Providence Recognizes Generations Of Its Miners

"Unseen Heroes"
Mural Located at Intersection of
East Main & South Broadway Streets
Providence, Webster County, Kentucky
Photo By JWV
Tradewater Genealogical Research Blog

Saturday, February 27, 2016

First PHS Graduate To Become A Doctor

Dr. Justice F. Wynn
Feb 15, 1895 - Jan 13, 1968
Lakeview Cemetery

Providence, Webster County, Kentucky

Justice Farless Wynn was born February 15, 1895 to John Daniel and Minnie Rice Wynns on a farm located on the banks of the Tradewater River near Providence, Kentucky. The farm was part of what was once a large tobacco plantation owned by generations of his family. Justice was one of the earliest graduates of Providence High School in 1914. After high school he earned a B.S. from Transylvania College in pre-medical studies. His education was interrupted when he was drafted into the army during World War I. Following the war, he enrolled in 1919 as a freshman at the University of Cincinnati's College of Medicine. He completed his medical training in 1922.

Dr. Wynn completed his residency at Welborn Baptist Hospital in Evansville, Indiana. His mentor was Dr. James Y. Welborn. Dr. Wynn became a gifted surgeon and maintained a vigorous practice for the next thirty years. He often performed as many as nine surgeries a day. His records state that he performed almost 600 cesarean sections and lost only one mother that was already in labor and suffered from heart issues when she was referred to him. The majority of his surgeries were performed at St. Mary's Hospital in Evansville. In the prime of his surgical career he was possibly the best known surgeon in the Tri-state area of Indiana, Kentucky, & Illinois.

In February 1927, Dr. Wynn married Mary "Marie" G. Lockwood of Magnolia, Wisconsin. Marie proved to be an excellent match for the doctor. During the years of their marriage, she helped him restore his family's farm and reacquire the parts of the original plantation that had been sold off. In addition, she was active in civic activities in both Evansville and Providence. In 1940, she served on the Centennial Celebration committee for Providence.

Dr. Wynn served as a surgeon until March 6, 1956. It was on that day that a robber broke into his Evansville home demanding money. After binding the doctor, the attacker tortured him by using pliers on his fingertips. The damage resulted in loss of sensitivity and Dr. Wynn would not perform surgeries after that attack. However, he did continue practicing medicine for the next twelve years. While working in his office in early January, 1968, he suffered a stroke and died a week later from it and pneumonia. A few years prior to his death, he reportedly burned $250,000 worth of bills owed by longtime patients.

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Caldwell County, Kentucky Confederate Soldier's Last Battle

Thomas S. Lewis
Jan 21, 1846 - Sept 15, 1919
Big Hill Cemetery
Providence, Webster County, Kentucky
Thomas S. Lewis was born Jan. 21, 1846 to Charles B. and Catherine Ausenbaugh Lewis in Caldwell County, Kentucky. The 1860 federal census reported that he was attending school and his father was a farmer. Two years later, he enlisted in Company K of the 10th Kentucky Mounted Infantry of the Confederate Army on November 2, 1862. He was captured by Union soldiers on July 20, 1863 in Cheshire, Ohio. After his capture, he was sent to Camp Douglas, Illinois on August 20, 1863 and remained there until he was released on March 25, 1865.

After the war, Thomas returned to Caldwell County and married Virginia Cox on August 16, 1866. The union produced 11 children, 10 of those children were still alive in 1900. Like his father before him, Thomas was a farmer all his life. He and Virginia were married for 40 years, until her death in 1906.

In 1912, Kentucky passed legislation that provided a pension for Confederate Veterans who had served honorably during the Civil War. Former C.S.A. Private Thomas S. Lewis was living in Providence, Webster County, Kentucky when he submitted his application for the pension in the spring of 1912.

His application included the necessary statements from fellow soldiers regarding his wartime service and doctor and court statements regarding his health and limited financial means. Furthermore, the war department in Washington, D.C. had the records of his capture and prison time. His application appeared to meet all the necessary requirements for him to be granted a pension. 

However, when Commissioner W. J. Stone, a fellow native of Caldwell County, reviewed his application he denied his pension. Commissioner Stone stated that Thomas' application stated he was released because he took the oath of allegiance to the U.S. Government and was pardoned by General S.W. Powell. The pension law passed in March 1912 did not allow soldiers who were released by taking the oath to receive a pension. 

Thomas Lewis made numerous appeals to Commissioner Stone to reconsider his application. However, Stone would not allow a pension to a soldier that failed to meet the requirements of the law. Thomas and other soldiers that were all applying for pensions on the same day and using the same lawyer asserted that the reason he took the oath was because he was near death from starvation and would not have lived until General Lee's surrender in April of 1865. This argument did not sway Stone's decision and he declined the requests for reconsideration. 

In March of 1914, the Kentucky Legislature revised the pension law to allow soldiers that had taken the oath due to starvation or fear for their lives to receive a pension. After an additional year of  correspondence, Private Thomas S. Lewis was granted his pension on April 27, 1915 under the rules of the Pension Law of 1914. His three year battle for his pension exceeded his time in the military. He died  on September 15, 1919 in Princeton, Caldwell County, Kentucky after being on the pension roll for four years.

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