Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Sophia Couch, August 22, 1978

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:06 - Playing outdoors as a child

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Partial Transcript: This is an interview with Ms. Sophia Couch for the oral history project Frontier Nursing Service by Dale Deaton at approximately 2pm at Rockhouse, Kentucky on 22nd August, 1978.

Segment Synopsis: Sophia Couch is introduced. She talks about growing up on Short Creek in Leslie County, Kentucky. She talks about playing outside with her brother and encountering snakes and birds.

Keywords: Brothers; Farms; Martins; Playing; Rattlesnakes; Red birds; Schools; Short Creek (Ky.); Whippoorwills; Wrens

Subjects: Animals; Childhood; Leslie County (Ky.); Rural children; Rural conditions

GPS: Short Creek (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.1414807, -83.3790710
00:04:59 - Education in a one-room schoolhouse

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Partial Transcript: Well, after y--when you started school, uh, w, was the school that you went to, was it located on Short Creek?

Segment Synopsis: Couch says she walked three miles each way to attend school in a one-room schoolhouse. She talks about completing eighth grade and attending a normal school to become a teacher.

Keywords: Distance; Food; Lunches; Ms. Lewis; Normal schools; Schoolhouses; Schools; Students; Teachers; Walking

Subjects: Childhood; Education--Kentucky; Rural children; Rural conditions; Rural schools--Kentucky

00:07:36 - Women's work

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Partial Transcript: And after you completed the normal school, uh, you taught school here in Leslie County.

Segment Synopsis: Couch talks about teaching school, and her salary compared to the wages others were earning. She talks about the other types of work women did, helping on the farm and preparing food.

Keywords: Cooking; Corn; Farming; Gardens; Married; Pickling

Subjects: Canning and preserving; Food--Preservation--Appalachian Region; Teachers--Kentucky; Teachers--Salaries, etc.; Teaching; Wages.

00:11:51 - Family background

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Partial Transcript: Well you mentioned before that you can remember, uh, some Black people who lived in Leslie County and that you thought they were ex-slaves.

Segment Synopsis: Couch talks about her grandfather whose sister was killed by Native Americans, and he later killed other Native Americans for revenge. He also ran away to California for over thirty years, leaving his wife and children in Kentucky. She talks about her family members who fought for the Union Army during the Civil War. She talks about her husband's work farming, logging, and constructing a telephone line in the area.

Keywords: African Americans; American Indians; California; Civil War; Death; Ex-slaves; Farming; Fathers; Fires; Former slaves; Grandfathers; Great Depression; Harlan County (Ky.); Husbands; Jobs; Leaving; Logging; Married; Murders; Native Americans; Parties; Selling slaves; Telephone lines; Union Army; Working; World War I

Subjects: Families.; Family histories.; Family--history; Genealogy--Appalachian Region; Occupations.; Work.

GPS: Harlan County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 36.86, -83.22
00:19:59 - Frontier Nursing Service

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember when--about the time that Mary Breckinridge came here and started the Frontier Nursing Service?

Segment Synopsis: Couch talks about her husband's work building the Frontier Nursing Service headquarters at Wendover. She says that four of her children were delivered by local midwives and one was delivered by the FNS nurses.

Keywords: Advice; Betsy Asher; Construction; Delivery; Dinners; Fannie Begley; Husbands; Mary Breckinridge; Teaching; Wendover (Ky.)

Subjects: Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Childbirth; Children; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Maternal health services.; Medical care--Kentucky; Midwifery--Appalachian Region; Midwives--Appalachian Region; Nurses; Rural health services

GPS: Wendover (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.126389, -83.362778
00:26:13 - Encounters with wild animals

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Partial Transcript: Well you told me yesterday about panthers and other wild--

Segment Synopsis: Couch tells a story of her grandmother being chased by a panther, and another about hearing wolves outside the house. She talks about the family dog that hunted foxes.

[An interruption in taping occurs during this segment.]

Keywords: Danger; Dogs; Foxes; Grandmothers; Horses; Neighbors; Panthers; Traveling; Wolves

Subjects: Animals; Predatory animals.; Rural conditions

00:35:00 - Childhood home

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Partial Transcript: When you lived on Short Creek how close or how far was it to the next--

Segment Synopsis: Couch describes her family home, including the distance between neighbors, how the house was heated, how food was cooked, and the type of furniture the family owned.

Keywords: Baking bread; Beds; Cooking; Fireplaces; Furniture; Heating; Houses; Neighbors; Relatives; Rooms; Short Creek (Ky.); Stoves; Visiting

Subjects: Families.; Food habits; Rural conditions

GPS: Short Creek (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.1414807, -83.3790710
00:40:25 - Childhood entertainment

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Partial Transcript: Well during that t--that period when you were a young girl, did--were there a lot of churches around?

Segment Synopsis: Couch says she had never heard of church until she was seven years old. She talks about what people did for entertainment, including parties and dances. She talks about life for women during her childhood, and talks about what she would have changed.

[An interruption in taping occurs during this segment. A brief portion of the segment is repeated.]

Keywords: Behavior; Books; Changes; Chaperones; Dances; Drinking; Entertainment; Fun; General stores; Hyden (Ky.); Murders; Parties; Religion; Schoolhouses; Sunday school; Women

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Childhood; Churches--Kentucky; Rural conditions

GPS: Hyden (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.163333, -83.375
00:48:21 - Race relations

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Partial Transcript: Did you ever anytime in your life travel out of Leslie County?

Segment Synopsis: Couch discusses her interactions with African Americans and tells a story about a man she encountered while living in a girl's dormitory. She talks about former slaves living in the area.

Keywords: Dormitories; Ex-slaves; Former slaves; Laurel County (Ky.); Leslie County (Ky.); London (Ky.); Republicans; Traveling; Union Army

Subjects: African Americans--Appalachian Region; African Americans--Kentucky; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism

GPS: Laurel County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.11, -84.12
00:51:53 - Ghost stories

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Partial Transcript: Well with the, the people and, and the way that they lived and prepared their food and so forth, do you think most of them were re--were happy with their life?

Segment Synopsis: Couch tells a story her father told her about his stay in a haunted house. She also tells a story about her sister-in-law haunting her children.

Keywords: "Haint tales"; Children; Death; Fathers; Ghosts; Leslie County (Ky.); Murders; Singing; Storytelling; Tuberculosis

Subjects: Ghost stories.; Haunted houses.

GPS: Leslie County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.09, -83.38
01:03:44 - Politics

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Partial Transcript: Did--have you voted in elections--

Segment Synopsis: Couch says she did vote, but cannot recall any specific elections. She talks about how Franklin D. Roosevelt's programs, like Social Security, helped the people in Leslie County. The interview concludes abruptly.

Keywords: Better off; Changes; Democrats; Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR); Grocery stores; Polls; Social Security; Works Progress Administration (WPA)

Subjects: Politics and government; Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945; Rural conditions; Rural roads; Voting

GPS: Leslie County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.09, -83.38