Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Sherman Wooten, November 7, 1979

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:02 - Introduction / school / World War I

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Partial Transcript: This is an unrehearsed interview with Sherman Wooten for the Frontier Nursing Service oral history project by Dale Deaton at approximately 9:30AM on 7 November, 1979, on Hurt's Creek, Leslie County, Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Sherman Wooten is introduced. He talks briefly about his family history. He discusses the schools he went to as a child and the subjects he studied. He talks about World War I and the first funeral he remembers.

Keywords: Arithmetic; Books; Congressional Medal of Honor; Food; Learning; Louisville Courier Journal; Macintosh Grade School; Math; Military funerals; Reading; Spelling; Uniforms; Veterans; Volunteers; World War 1; World War I; World War One

Subjects: Education; Families.; Leslie County (Ky.); Ohio; Rural schools--Appalachian Region; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; World War, 1914-1918

00:08:50 - Logging

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Partial Transcript: Uh--was your father, was he a farmer and--and worked in the log woods?

Segment Synopsis: Wooten talks in detail about logging including the methods for transporting the logs down a river as well as prices for different types of wood.

Keywords: Army; Boats; Cutting; Farmers; Farming; Jobs; Logs; Mills; Money; Oxen; Pay; Poplars; Prices; Property; Rafts; Rifles; Rivers; Selling; Timber; Trains; Trees; Wages; White oaks; Wood; Working; Worth

Subjects: Logging; World War, 1914-1918

00:21:49 - Building a raft

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Partial Transcript: W--what were the sizes of--of some of the larger rafts?

Segment Synopsis: Wooten discusses how to make a raft for transporting logs down a river.

Keywords: Brands; Coal; Exciting; Floating; Jobs; Length; Logs; Rafting; Rafts; Rivers; Sizes; Stealing; Steering; Theft; Trains; Transportation; Virgin timber; Wood; Working

Subjects: Logging

00:31:30 - Earning money

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Partial Transcript: During the days that all this logging was going on, was that the biggest cash crop people had?

Segment Synopsis: Wooten discusses carious ways people in the community earned money including logging, pensions, and making and selling whiskey.

Keywords: Bootlegging; Buying; Cash crops; Clothes; Coal miners; Corn; Distilleries; Dry Hill (Ky.); Food; Growing; Income; John Shell; Lumber; Moonshine; Pensions; Prices; Shoes; Spanish-American War; Stills; Stores; Timber; Travelling salesmen; Whiskey; Wood

Subjects: African Americans--Appalachian Region; Canning and preserving; Civil war; Distilling, Illicit; Logging; Subsistence farming

00:42:07 - Civil War / African Americans in the community

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Partial Transcript: Y--you talked a minute ago about your grandfather being in the Civil War.

Segment Synopsis: Wooten discusses the Civil War, including a story about Confederate soldiers disguising themselves in Union army uniforms. He talks about African Americans in the area.

Keywords: Army; Communities; Confederate soldiers; Disguises; Food; Guerrilla groups; Hangings; Hiding; Leaving; Moving; Slaves; Tricks; Uniforms; Union soldiers; Wars

Subjects: African Americans--Appalachian Region; Civil war; Coal mines and mining--Kentucky; Perry County (Ky.); Slavery

00:50:48 - Hyden, Kentucky on Saturday nights

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Partial Transcript: Were you around Hyden very much when you were growing up, Sherman?

Segment Synopsis: Wooten describes Hyden on Saturday nights and talks more about distilling alcohol. He talks about the local doctors in 1918. He discusses various leaders of the community and speaks more about bootlegging and his father's involvement.

Keywords: Bootlegging; Building; Buildings; Coal camps; Construction; Doctors; Judges; Leaders; Liquor; Moonshine; Selling; Squibs; Stores; Treatment; Wet counties

Subjects: Alcohol--Law and legislation--Kentucky; Distilling, Illicit; Hyden (Ky.); Liquor laws--United States; Medical care--Appalachian Region; Medical care--Kentucky; Perry County (Ky.)

01:01:46 - Politics

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Partial Transcript: W--were y'all aware of the--of the problems that were going on in Harlan County and Perry County with United Mine Workers in the twenties? Or thirties?

Segment Synopsis: Wooten talks about the fights over unionizing the mines in Harlan and Perry County. He tells a story he heard about someone who was fighting against the unions. He speculates on why many people in the area are Republicans.

Keywords: Confederate army; Democrats; Fights; Jobs; Murders; Republicans; Shootings; Union army; Unions; Work

Subjects: Civil war; Coal miners--Labor unions--Kentucky; Kentucky--Politics and government; Labor unions--Kentucky--Harlan County.; Perry County (Ky.); Slavery; United Mine Workers of America

01:07:10 - More on schools

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned schools a few minutes ago on the-- the consolidation. By the time you were born I think the Hyden Academy had burned down but do you know anything about it?

Segment Synopsis: Wooten talks more about school, including the several schools he attended for high school and mentions several teachers. He gives his opinion on kindergarten. He discusses the local school board and where teachers used to live.

Keywords: Algebra; Boarding; Building; High schools; Homes; Houses; Kindergarten; Learning; Leslie County High School; Money; Red Bird Mission School; Room and board; School boards; Students; Trustees

Subjects: Education; Elections; Rural schools--Appalachian Region; Rural schools--Kentucky; Teachers--Kentucky; Thousandsticks (Ky.)

01:17:44 - Attitudes about outsiders

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Partial Transcript: When you were going to school at--at Buckhorn, Pine Mountain, Red Bird, and Oneida, were you aware that the people that were--uh--that were operating those schools were from outside this area?

Segment Synopsis: Wooten discusses why people in the area are hesitant to accept outsiders in their community and whether it has always been this way.

Keywords: Articles; Attitudes; F.N.S.; FNS; Holy rollers; LA Times; Los Angeles Times; Magazines; Misrepresentation; Newspapers; One-sided; Opposition; Outsiders; Photographs; Reader's Digest; Snake handling; Stereotypes

Subjects: Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.

01:23:33 - Frontier Nursing Service

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember seeing Mary Breckinridge when she came here in 1925?

Segment Synopsis: Wooten talks about Mary Breckinridge and the Frontier Nursing Service. He discusses the other doctors that were in town before the FNS arrived.

Keywords: "Granny" midwives; Betty Lester; Cancer; Clinics; Cooking; Diet; Diphtheria; Disabilities; Doctors; F.N.S.; FNS; Food; Hair styles; Herb doctors; Home remedies; Home visits; Immunizations; Infant mortality rates; Injections; Injuries; Inoculations; Instruction; Oral Roberts; Outposts; Pneumonia; Public health nurses; Sanitation; Shots; Stillbirth deliveries; Stillborn

Subjects: Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Medical care--Appalachian Region; Medical care--Kentucky; Medicine, Rural; Midwives; Nurses; Physicians--Kentucky

01:33:03 - Drought

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Partial Transcript: In 1929 and '30 was the drought here. D--do you remember any rafts running down river after that?

Segment Synopsis: Wooten discusses the drought that occurred in the area in 1929-30. He talks about working on the Civilian Conservation Corps in California. He mentions the first time he rode in an airplane.

Keywords: Airplanes; CCC; California; Droughts; Floods; Government relief programs; Houses; Jobs; Labor; Lumber; Rafts; Roads; ThreeC's; Work programs; Working

Subjects: Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.); Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945

01:40:07 - Great Depression

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Partial Transcript: From the late twenties into the early thirties, th--you know the stock market crashes in '29 and--and the Depression comes about in the United States. What were some of the changes that took place here?

Segment Synopsis: Wooten describes the effects of the Great Depression on the local area.

Keywords: Banks; Booms; C.C.C.; CCC; Changes; Government relief programs; Great Depression; Jobs; Newspapers; Stock market crashes; W.P.A.; WPA; Work

Subjects: Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.); Depressions--1929--Kentucky; Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964.; Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945; Russia; United States. Works Progress Administration.

01:44:40 - Prohibition and moonshining

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Partial Transcript: Not long after Roosevelt took office Prohibition ended and--uh--sale of alcoholic beverages in this country was legal again. But before that happened, w--were you aware of any network where moonshine was made in eastern Kentucky and--and shipped up north into Chicago and Dayton, Ohio and Flint, Michigan and places like that?

Segment Synopsis: Wooten talks about Prohibition and the distillation in Kentucky that provided liquor for other states. He describes places called "ginny barns" where parties and gambling occurred. He tells a story about a local man who owned 300 slot machines.

Keywords: Alcohol; Bootlegging; Distilleries; Drinking; Fights; Flint (Mi.); Gambling; George Wooten; Ginny barns; Killing; Moonshine; Murders; Sheriffs; Slot machines; Stills; Whiskey

Subjects: Chicago (Ill.); Distilling, Illicit; Prohibition

01:51:37 - More on local politics

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Partial Transcript: At a--at about the same time th--that the ginny barns were open here, do you remember a--anyone inducing young women that worked in those or other young women around the county to go to northern cities and they told them they would take them there and--and send them to schools and so forth, and then once they got them there they--they put them in houses of prostitution. Do y--did you hear anything about any of that?

Segment Synopsis: Wooten talks more about local politics including George Wooten's political career. He tells a story about a conflict between Louie Nunn and George Wooten over John Sherman Cooper's senate seat. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Campaigns; County judges; Dishonesty; Elections; George Wooten; John Sherman Cooper; Louie B. Nunn; Senators; Sheriffs; Speeches; Tricks

Subjects: Kentucky--Politics and government; Political corruption--Kentucky; Prostitution; United States--Politics and government--Moral and ethical aspects