20 November 2010

Don't Drink The Water!

compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber
November 2010


My email has been flooded since writing "Vomiting Lizards." Many told of family tales of other unusual items eaten. One suggested that Uncle Billy Taylor may have eaten lizard eggs swallowing them whole and then they hatched.

I must confess I have had a history with the lizards of Eastern Kentucky. Most of Kentucky has skinks and blue tailed fence lizards. They scamper unharmed, in the warmth of the sun, along our log home porch and flower beds.

Friends and family enjoy telling of the day I disrobed in front of my son because something was in my pants. Once I got over the panic and found out it was an innocent lizard I calmed enough to let him get back to nature. I am sure he was not happy either having traveled up my leg in unfamiliar terrain. For several years I received gifts of shirts and even socks with lizard motif.

None the less the story of Uncle Billy Taylor seemed very unusual to me. Then along with the other emails I heard from Archivist Steve Green. Steve and I have corresponded for several years on matters involving Eastern Kentucky history and genealogy. He has intrigued and stimulated me about more than one subject. So it should come as no surprise that he was able to supply me with pages of similar stories involving illness and even death by lizard.

With so many available historical newspapers online the task of coordinating articles has become much easier for researchers. Steve submitted seventeen articles between 1884 and 1910 with incidences from Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and of course Kentucky.

Several of the articles indicated that drinking spring water was the cause of lizards in their stomachs. In that case the articles should have referenced salamanders also found in Eastern Kentucky. Salamanders are a joy to catch when you go "creekin" here in my beloved homeland.

The Stanford Semi-Weekly Interior Journal out of Central Kentucky reported, 20 November 1896, that Julia Parsons, a young girl of Union County, swallowed a lizard while drinking water from a spring. She died in horrible agony the following day.

The Richmond Climax reported August 15, 1900 from an article in the Mt. Sterling Gazette that Willie Farley, of Moreland, [Lincoln County] Kentucky, age six, coughed up a full grown lizard about seven inches in length. The boy was reported to have swallowed the lizard while drinking water and had been in his stomach for some time.

Salamanders are known to rejuvenate body parts after accidents -super regeneration- and scientists have been doing cell studies for years. Answers.com says they have poisonous enzymes in their fangs that can "eat away your insides. Nothing to crazy though." As urban legends go even Snoops.com has a link about eating salamanders.

The water in the well on our farm in Eastern Kentucky is crystal clear and icy cold. The well has served generations of family and friends. While we now have another pumped well and even utilize city water, there is nothing like plunging that stainless bucket down and pulling the water up link by link and drinking from the dipper.

Appalachian genealogy and history is unlike any other in our country and the area is flooded with folklore and old beliefs. The family swears that when Jesse James and his gang robbed the Bank of Huntington, Jesse stopped at our farm and drank from the well commenting that it was the "best water I ever tasted." Some family members declare it was "written up" in a Huntington paper. I have followed the supposed path of the gang members and can't envision they were even close to our farm let alone the well behind the mansion house. I have searched the Huntington [W.VA.] news articles without success. But it is a good story. And wouldn't it been most beneficial for the posse if Jesse had drank a lizard!











17 November 2010

Vomiting Lizards

compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber
November 2010


The title of this blog certainly is not very pretty but I am betting more than one person will check in to see what it is about. I certainly did a double take when I was recently looking at newspaper articles for 1892 in our area.

The Big Sandy News usually posted activities for various communities. Glenwood is in Lawrence County, Kentucky very close to both the Carter and Boyd County lines. The 16 September 1892 issue brings us this news from Glenwood:

"Last Sunday morning Uncle Billy Taylor was out among his cattle when he became deathly sick. He went to his house and a doctor was called. The old man had begun having convulsions, then began to vomit, when he threw up four grown lizards. He soon got better and says it is a mystery how they got there."

I had trouble swallowing this bit of news. Coming from a background with many doctors my mind is racing as to what actually did happen. My first thought was the gentleman had a severe case of tape worms but surely the physician could tell the difference! There is an eating disorder known as Pica where people eat a variety of things. Gould's Medical Dictionary for 1926 says it is "a craving for unnatural and strange articles of food; a symptom present in certain forms of insanity..."

There are several Taylor families in the area during this time frame so I don't want to "bite off more than I can chew" and will leave the genealogy to the Taylor researchers.


Clip art by clker.com

15 November 2010

Josiah Morton's Service Confused

compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber
November 2010


While Registrar of the Poage Chapter DAR I was asked to assist a Greenup County resident with her papers concerning Josiah Morton. She proudly proclaimed that he had a lovely marker dedicated by the DAR in Greenup County and felt she would have no difficulty establishing her lineage.

The earliest, local, notation that Josiah Morton of Greenup County was in the Revolution appeared 28 April 1942 in the Daily Independent. During a report of the Poage Chapter business it states "...that the marker had arrived for the grave of Josiah Morton in Greenup County and would be placed soon honoring a Revolutionary soldier who died in 1838."

Another article in the Portsmouth Times, 11 October 1965, states Josiah Morton's service was performed under General Nathaniel Green. There was no indication in any chapter minutes or articles of how the chapter determined that this Josiah Morton, in fact, was the Josiah Morton who served from Virginia in the Revolution.

An article in the Portsmouth Times dated 20 November 1875 gives a very colorful description of Josiah Morton, and his slaves, of Greenup County, including the statement that he was a member of the First Presbyterian church of Portsmouth. With such detail one would think if he had military service it would have been mentioned in that article. It was not.

The History of Greenup County, Kentucky by Nina Biggs was not written until 1951, 9 years after the ordered marker indicating service. In Biggs publication she states that Josiah served at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse and Siege of Yorktown. She also mentions he has a land grant but does not stipulate where or what the land involved.

The next research step was to locate Josiah Morton's actual military service record. The Revolutionary Pension of one Josiah Morton filed with the National Archives is S8898. The very first page states that Josiah Morton of Caswell County, North Carolina served under the command of General Green. This Josiah Morton, by his own testimony had been in the state troops of Virginia from Prince Edward County, Virginia and had served at Yorktown. He states he was born in Prince Edward County 26 December 1760. He also states in his own words that after the war he moved to Caswell County, North Carolina. The statement was given in Caswell County in 1833.

There is no other Revolutionary record of another Josiah Morton among the Federal Records. The Josiah Morton of Greenup County appears on the 1830 Federal Census for Greenup County, Kentucky while Josiah Morton of Caswell County, North Carolina appears on the 1830 Federal Census of that county.

Researchers are aware that Josiah Morton of Greenup County, Kentucky married Nancy Fuqua while Josiah Morton of Caswell County, North Carolina was married to Elizabeth Venable. The NSDAR has a submission for Josiah with wife Elizabeth [National #420442]. There are no applications filed in the DAR for the Josiah Morton of Greenup County, Kentucky.

Josiah Morton of Greenup County, Kentucky was here in 1810. Josiah Morton of Greenup County does not appear on the 1820 pension list for the state of Kentucky nor does he appear in Revolutionary Soldiers in Kentucky by Quisenberry.

Next, I carefully reviewed the Land Warrants of Kentucky. Josiah Morton did not have a Virginia Revolutionary War Warrant. What I did find for Josiah Morton of Greenup County, Kentucky is a Kentucky Land Warrant dated 16 May 1819 book E page 393. These are warrants purchased from the early state of Kentucky not earned for military service.

Clearly the Poage Chapter attributed Josiah Morton of Greenup County with the service of another of the same name. But what about Josiah Morton of Greenup County? He certainly is of the right age to have interacted during the War.

The Library of Virginia shows a Josiah Morton in Charlotte County, Virginia at the same time Josiah Morton of Prince Edward County was in service. The Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts shows that during the session that began May 1780 of the General Assembly there was an act to impress supplies needed by the American Army. In Commissioner's Book I page 303 are the certificates issued by the commissioners of the provision law showing Josiah Morton's name and the recorded date payment was authorized. This Josiah is a patriot not a soldier. The Fuqua family also owned property in Charlotte County and Campbell County, Virginia.

Heads of Families of Virginia 1782 show Josiah Morton, later of Caswell, North Carolina in Prince Edward County while the other Josiah Morton resides in Charlotte County with 4 white and 20 blacks. Again the Fuqua's appear in the Charlotte County list.

In 1811, one year after Josiah Morton appears in the Greenup Census, the Legislative Petitions database for Virginia shows Mary Ward of Kanawha County, the widow of Jeremiah Ward asking for a law allowing her to pay Josiah Morton for his moiety in slaves which were divided by the estate of her father Moses Fuqua of Greenup County,Kentucky.

Thus while Josiah Morton, of Greenup County, Kentucky, may not have seen battle under General Green or been at Yorktown, as did his counterpart, he is a patriot recognized by his public claim.







05 November 2010

Train Accidents Took Many Loved Ones

compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber
November 201
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We are curious creatures. By that I mean, we as researchers, when looking for specific items in newspapers, always end up reading a zillion other articles before getting to the subject of our search.

And just about every newspaper in America in the early 1900's carried articles of train wrecks or people hit by trains when on the rails. As I was scanning an article about a family member in the Ashland Daily Independent I noticed a tiny one paragraph item telling of the death of yet another person killed by a train.

"9 April 1931 Tom May Killed By Train Today. The body of Tom May, 30, of Alphoretta, KY., was found badly mangled lying on the railroad tracks near Dinwood at 7 o'clock this morning. It is not known what train struck May and is not known how long he had been dead."


Alphoretta is located in Floyd County, Kentucky but the spelling is often confused with Alpharetta which is in Georgia. Alphoretta is just off Route 80 on Dinwood Road with just a few scattered homes.

Curious creature that I am I decided to view the death certificate for a few more details. The Floyd County death certificate was delayed. But the information shows that Thomas Jefferson May was younger than the Ashland paper had said. He was born 10 January 1910, the son of Clark May of Alphoretta. He was an engine oiler in a local gas plant. The tracks belonged to Chesapeake & Ohio and the doctor comment was "supposed to be accidentally struck by train."

The 1930 Federal census for Alphoretta, Floyd County, shows a large family. His father is listed as Beverly L. C. May and his mother [who was not listed on the death certificate] was Dollie. Tom is listed as 20 years old and doing farm labor.

The C&O, B&O and N&W rails along with many short lines crisscrossed Eastern Kentucky providing passenger service, mail and industrial hauls. When I transcribed the entries for Scioto Division Norfolk & Western RailRoad Life And Limb 1895-1928 I stopped many times because of the graphic details written by the physicians. While the book is based out of Scioto County, Ohio some of the rail workers and passengers were Kentucky natives. And not all entries ended with death.

Everett Short, a carpenter from Fallsburg, [Lawrence County] Kentucky bruised his foot and fractured the phalanx of his left great toe on 23 November 1916.

J. D. White of Fullerton [Greenup County] mashed his nail off his right thumb while working at the planing mill in March 1915. That had to be painful. Another Greenup resident, A. B. Callihan also bruised his right thumb at the joint while either working for N&W in Portsmouth or just standing at Grant Street in Portsmouth in 1922. The details are not clear and the injury, while reported to Roanoke, was not bad. These small incidences of course did not make the local newspapers.

I love the sound and rhythm of the trains as they follow the ribbon of the Ohio River. The power of the engines and the visual of industry flowing into our state by these majestic pieces of machinery always leaves me in awe. I even wonder about the spray painted graphics, known as tagging, on the cars these days. Where was that done and how many miles has it traveled since some one tagged it?

When I was a little girl we followed US #23 beside the rails to Portsmouth, Ohio where I sat by the hour on Waller Street, at my grandmothers, playing with my father and uncles O gauge railroad. I cherish the Christmas pictures of them as children playing with the train under the Christmas tree. We now have a rather large O gauge layout, thanks to my father, that his great grandchildren enjoy at our house. Both my grandsons are being given a small wooden train set for their 2nd birthdays this month from us. It makes me smile when they say "choo choo." Many happy hours of play.
[Nellie Kautz Martin of Ashland KY with grandson Henry Kautz Martin Jr at Henry Kautz and Clara Page Geer Martin home Portsmouth, OH about 1936]

But the reality is that many loved ones either working for or traveling and simply crossing the tracks have given their lives in the name of this powerful industry. it is part of our Eastern Kentucky history and it leaves me in awe.