Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Homer D. Allen, July 13, 1983

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Teges Creek life in the 1800's

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Partial Transcript: I'm talking to Homer D. Allen. Homer D., did you ever hear any old stories or about what it was like back around Teges when the first settlers came in there?

Segment Synopsis: Homer talks about his grandfather's construction/logging trade, and how his father would skip school to accompany the grandfather during work. Homer talks about his father and grandfather taking shelter in a mule barn while constructing a house.

Keywords: Teges Creek; construction materials.; construction work; early settlement; logging industry

Subjects: Logging--Kentucky--Teges Creek; Manners and customs--Teges Creek (Ky.); Teges Creek (Ky.)

00:05:09 - Early infrastructure in Teges Creek

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Partial Transcript: Of course now, even in your day, you have a, everything has a pretty good road around here.

Segment Synopsis: Early roads in Teges Creek were very poor. Mule teams were necessary but cars could be driven in the summer when the roads were dry.

Keywords: Construction; Driving; Model T; Morehead (Ky.); Mules; Oldsmobile; Roads; Team; Teges Creek (Ky.); Wagons; Working; infrastructure

Subjects: Express highways--Kentucky--Design and construction; Roads--Design and construction--Kentucky--Teges Creek

00:09:33 - Natural gas and oil in Teges Creek

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Partial Transcript: We had gas, and had a coal yard in our, on our place here.

Segment Synopsis: Homer talks about the petroleum exportation and Teges Creek's role in drilling for natural gas. Natural gas companies came in and leased land to drill for natural gas and didn't give the people of Teges Creek a fair deal. Teges Creek citizens only got one hundred and twenty-five dollars to lease their land for natural gas wells.

Keywords: Coal Powered; Contracting; Drilling; Energy; Leasing; Mules; Natural Gas; Oil; Steam drill; Steers

Subjects: Businesspeople; Coal mines and mining--Technological innovations; Energy industries; Export marketing

00:22:29 - The 5,000 acre Teges Creek land grant

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Partial Transcript: You know the 5,000 square acres? You know who got that from a grant?

Segment Synopsis: A 5,000 acre land grant was given to Adernan Allen who then opened up a water mill and settled the area. Emerde Combs was stranded in the area and was offered a settlement deal from Adernan after he courted his daughter. The area was mostly family owned.

Keywords: Adernan Allen; Construction; Emerde Combs; Land Grant; Marriage; Newfound; Watermill; marriage customs; trading labor

Subjects: Land use, Rural--Kentucky; Teges Creek (Ky.); Water resources development

00:29:32 - Acquiring supplies in early Teges Creek

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Partial Transcript: Well do you think he was the one that started the main logging, then?

Segment Synopsis: Finding supplies and goods was different in the early days of Teges Creek. A mill was set up that sold cut lumber and ground corn meal to people from all over the area. Many people relied solely on bartering for their goods.

Keywords: Bartering; Corn; Electricity; Grinding Corn; Lumber Trade; Mill; Shelling; Store Trade; The Great Depression

Subjects: Corn--Milling; Lumber trade; Teges Creek (Ky.); Water resources development

00:34:23 - Electricity in Teges

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Partial Transcript: When electricity came in it made a big difference. About when was that?

Segment Synopsis: Homer talks about the impact electricity had on the Teges Creek region. People began to purchase goods from stores and relied on running water and other amenities to meet their needs.

Keywords: Amenities; Elecricity; Innovation; Running Water; Urbanization; septic

Subjects: Electric utilities--Kentucky.; Rural electrification--Kentucky--Teges Creek; World War, 1939-1945

00:38:00 - Comparison of urban life and rural life

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Partial Transcript: Knowing me, you see, I'd go in a place, and 'course, I'd been to college as well as--most of them hadn't.

Segment Synopsis: Homer speaks about the differences between country life and city life, especially pertaining to education and culture. He believes that the poor education in rural areas contributed to the unfair portrayal of the Teges Creek region.

Keywords: City Life; Country Life; Eastern Kentucky University; Rural; Rural Education; Teaching; Urbanization

Subjects: Chicago (Ill.); Community development, Urban--Kentucky--Lexington; Country life--Kentucky--Teges Creek; Rural schools--Appalachian Region; Rural-urban migration--Kentucky--Teges Creek

00:42:33 - The unfair portrayal of Appalachia

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Partial Transcript: People away from here have been badly misled through some writers in the years past about the hills.

Segment Synopsis: Homer goes into depth about the media's portrayal of the Teges Creek area and Appalachia in its entirety. He believes that although there were areas of poverty, living conditions for most were good if not better than most in urban areas. The rural land was normally worth more than city land because of plentiful natural resources.

Keywords: Appalachian Region; Degrading; Land Value; Living Conditions; Media Portrayal; Modern; NBC; Poverty; Social Customs; stereotypes

Subjects: Agriculture--Appalachian Region; Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Farm life--Appalachian Region

00:49:16 - Overcoming the stereotype through education

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Partial Transcript: That's the thing, people lived hard here. But I'm telling you, the brains have been here.

Segment Synopsis: Homer explains that although Appalachia dealt with poor education and hard living conditions, many people rose to success. He believes that education allowed the area's people to overcome the "hillbilly" stereotype. Homer also talks about his life as a teacher, although it was not his favorite job.

Keywords: Career; Degrees; PhD; Schooling; education; school board; skills

Subjects: Appalachians (People)--Kentucky--Social conditions; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Education--study and teaching

00:53:10 - The difficulties of making a living growing tobacco.

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Partial Transcript: We were growing tobacco, getting off on another subject here. We'd grow it, and couldn't sell it.

Segment Synopsis: Homer talks shortly about how it was not beneficial to grow tobacco for money in the area. Traditional tobacco farming failed to be profitable because of the transportation cost and equipment cost. He speaks about his belief in specialization and having a skill.

Keywords: Chew; Exporting; Farm; Farming; Garden; Growing; Importing; Making A Living; Marketing Tobacco; Mechanized; Specialized; Tobacco

Subjects: Smokeless tobacco; Tobacco industry--Kentucky; Tobacco--Marketing; Traditional farming--Kentucky

00:55:54 - The importance of having a specialization

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Partial Transcript: I mean, a degree helps, don't get me wrong. But you've got to specialize in one thing or another.

Segment Synopsis: Homer tells about his first hand experience with teaching and how a school invested in their future by paying for him to be trained and teach on their staff.

Keywords: Degree; Faculty; Making a Living; Salary; Schooling; Skill; Specialization; Teaching; Teges Creek

Subjects: Education, Higher--Kentucky; Education--study and teaching

00:57:55 - Earning a living in Teges Creek

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Partial Transcript: You've done a lot of different things in your life, did your father do different things to earn his living?

Segment Synopsis: Homer talks about how his family made ends meet when he was young. Families relied on their own produce and gardens to supply them with food while also relying on trade stores for other goods. There was always odd jobs to do for money and everyone helped each other out. Cash paying jobs were prevalent, but sometimes trade supplies were used as compensation.

Keywords: Bartering Goods; Coffee; Cooking Store; Corn; Family Farms; Farming; Food; Grain; Potato; Supplies; Supply post; Textiles; Tomato; Trading

Subjects: Depressions--1929--Kentucky; Family farms; Farm life--Appalachian Region; Food habits--Appalachian Region, Southern

01:03:34 - The side of Teges that everyone sees

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Partial Transcript: Now we did have, and I know a few. I won't mention any names. Uh, we had people, few people in the area, that just weren't, what my dad called, weren't thrifty. They just didn't work.

Segment Synopsis: Homer states that the media often sought out the impoverished people around Teges Creek in order to have a good story. This created an unfair stereotype. Homer cites his own education as proof against the media portrayals.

Keywords: Bottoms; Church; Judgmental; Labor; Media; Portrayal; Poverty; Stereotype; Teges Creek (Ky.); Unfair; Working Class; growing up poor

Subjects: Agricultural laborers; College students--Social life and customs; Education; Mass media and technology.; Poverty--Appalachian Region

01:06:30 - The Teges Creek community as a whole

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Partial Transcript: What do you remember about how people that were in the community would relate to each other?

Segment Synopsis: Everyone in the Teges Creek community was close. If someone needed help or were ill the other members would help the family. Many people would organize work events and have parties afterwards with alcohol and music. Home medicine was also very popular.

Keywords: Barn raising; Church; Community; Dinner; Family doctor; Frollock; Grubbin; Helpful; Manual Labor; Moonshine; Music; Parties; Togetherness; Trustworthy neighbors

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Community leadership; Country life--Kentucky--Teges Creek; Family medicine; Family--history; Farm life.; Manners and customs--Teges Creek (Ky.); Rural churches

01:13:47 - Relief for the poor and needy

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Partial Transcript: Well in 1918, everyone knows about the 1918 flu.

Segment Synopsis: After World War II people began seeking relief from the government. Factory work was very popular and coal was starting to rise up again.

Keywords: Factories; High wages; World War II; city life; commodities; doctors; financial relief; food stamps; government funding; handouts; hospital; insurance; labor unions; medicaid

Subjects: Agricultural machinery; Insurance companies; Labor unions--Organizing; Used cars; Wages--Law and legislation--Kentucky; War--Relief of sick and wounded; World War, 1939-1945

01:19:38 - The coal industry around Teges Creek

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Partial Transcript: Because I've loaded coal and done all these things, I know exactly what manual labor is.

Segment Synopsis: Homer tells about his work as a coal miner in the 1930's. He worked for small operations for local use but the industry changed when electricity came in and machines began to be used.

Keywords: 1930's; Coal Industry; black powder; blasting coal; cutting machines; dangerous work; drilling and tapping; electricity; fuse; local coal miners; local use; shoveling coal; small operation

Subjects: Coal miners; Coal miners--Labor unions--Kentucky; Coal mines and mining--Appalachian Region

01:23:43 - The community changes

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Partial Transcript: Do you see anything like that now of people getting together or helping each other or organizing together in some way?

Segment Synopsis: Homer states that there continues to be a sense of organization with the fire department as they have lunches and fundraisers for the community. He discusses how modern influences have changed Teges. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Change; Coming together; Community; Fire fighters; Fundraisers; Horse Show; Innovation; Organizing work; Urbanization

Subjects: Barns--Tobacco; Community Farm Alliance; Fire fighters--Kentucky; Roads--Design and construction