Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Jess D. Wilson, October 2, 1983

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:03 - Studying family history

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Partial Transcript: What made you get interested, Jess, in, in, studying the kinds of things that you study in your family history?

Segment Synopsis: Wilson began studying family history by looking at family records and old letters. Family history and genealogy is important because it is a type of self-identification and shows what the "whole human race is about."

Keywords: American Revolution; ancestors; baptist missionaries; family; family records; family tree; genealogy; history; human race; humble; hunting; illiterate; incest; kin; letters; old stories; past; pension; roots; self-indentification; status; war

Subjects: Appalachians (People); Family--history; Genealogy--Appalachian Region

00:07:57 - Bakers family connected with the establishment of Methodist Church in Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: One family, the Bakers, I have a suspicion, that--that's connected, in a off-hand sort of way, with the establishment of the Methodist churches in Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Francis Clark and John Durham were the first leaders of the Methodist Church in Kentucky. Through family ties, the Bakers were related to the Clarks.

Keywords: 1783; 200th Year of Methodism; Boyle County (Ky.); Danville (Ky.); Esther; Francis Clark; John Allen; John Durham; Mercer County (Ky.); Oneida (Ky.); Perryville (Ky.); preachers; readers

Subjects: Kentucky--History; Methodist Church

00:15:31 - Education in the area

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Partial Transcript: Does the mix of that particular area there, that little corner of Clay County, does that seem fairly typical to you of what you know about other areas, other places in this area around here?

Segment Synopsis: Wilson talks about the education of various members of the community. He discusses local schools and attitudes towards education.

Keywords: 1900; Andrew Bishop; Berea (Ky.); Burns; James Anderson Burns; Jess Allen; Jess Bishop; Nancy Burns; Oneida Institute; college; school

Subjects: Education--Appalachian Region; Education--Kentucky.; Genealogy

00:18:45 - Mary Anne Carmack

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Partial Transcript: There's one, uh, fascinating story down there, that's told.

Segment Synopsis: Mary Anne Carmack and her husband, Bill Bishop, made a living by selling hogs and beech wood to traveling buyers. Hogs were a profitable resource. Carmack and Bishop also manufactured whiskey and Mary Anne Carmack was arrested for making moonshine. She waited until she was brought to court in Covington to show that she had a license to do so.

Keywords: 1847; Bill Bishop; Civil War; Covington (Ky.); Crawford; Federal court; Prohibition; apron; baby; beech woods; coal miners; collaborators; competition; corn; hogs; labor unions; license; logs; manufacturers; manufacturing; moonshining; stills; stories; traveling buyers; whiskey

Subjects: Appalachian Region--History; Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Distilling, illicit

00:26:17 - Native Americans in Teges Creek

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Partial Transcript: To what extent it went on during a certain period?

Segment Synopsis: Talks about the significant financial contribution of moonshine and whiskey. Talks about people who are descendents from Pocahontas. John Rolfe developed tobacco into a profitable item and was important to the survival of the colonies. Wilson talks about American Indians in the area.

Keywords: Big Creek; Bill Bishop; Cincinnati; Flat Creek; Goose Creek; Indian princess; Indians; John Gilbert; John Rolfe; Kentucky; Pocahontas; Prohibition; Revolution; Western Pennsylvania; Whiskey Rebellion; amier1783; ancestors; bear; beaver; clear; colony; daily stories; deer; early 1700s; farmers; fertilizer; fishing; garbage; income; mine waste; redbird; research; stream; whiskey; white settlers; white women; women

Subjects: Family--history; Genealogy--Appalachian Region; Indians of North America.; Teges Creek (Ky.)

00:30:57 - John Gilbert

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Partial Transcript: Now John Gilbert is my ancestry, I mean he was a half-brother to my great-great-great-grandfather.

Segment Synopsis: John Gilbert studied midwifery. He delivered his last when he was 102 and he lived to be 104 years old. The names John and Felix are common in the Gilbert family. John Gilbert recognized his marriage with Molly Bowling by an old Scottish custom.

Keywords: 1804; 1810; Bakers; Clay County (Ky.); Felix; ancestors; baby; birth date; death date; feud; frontier; horse; husband; license issue; marriage records; neighborhoods

Subjects: Family--history; Genealogy; Gilbert family; Midwifery--Appalachian Region

00:42:15 - Union soldiers from the area

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Partial Transcript: During the Civil War, do you think that most of the families in that area were they aligned with the North or the South or were they trying to keep out of it?

Segment Synopsis: Wilson discusses the Civil War affiliations of members of the community. There were several prominent union soldiers from the area. Wilson also tells a story about Eliza Williams's grandparents.

Keywords: Alfred Wilson; Baker; Civil War; deserted; first cousin; good soldier; grandfathers

Subjects: Appalachian Region--History; Genealogy--Appalachian Region; United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.

00:45:25 - Baker/White feud

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Partial Transcript: Well we've, uh, mentioned the trouble, the Baker/White trouble, or feud, a couple times. And that's another thing, you know, that I know that is a part of our history but that is also difficult for people to talk about.

Segment Synopsis: The feud between the Bakers and the Whites dates back to the Old Cattle War. Wilson is a descendent of the Bakers. The Civil War also pitted the two families against each other.

Keywords: Baker trouble; Bar Creek; Beech Creek; Bill White; Boston Baker; Bowlin Baker; Burns family; Laurel Creek; Matt Wilson; Missouri; Morgan County (Ky.); Oneida (Ky.); Tom Baker; Will White; behavior; old cattle war

Subjects: Appalachian Region--History; Appalachian Region--Social life and customs

00:52:23 - Boston Baker / Andy Baker

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Partial Transcript: When you started coming across these stories about Boston Baker, how did you get in on that?

Segment Synopsis: Wilson describes Boston Baker as intelligent, though illiterate, and physically fit but had too much of an ego. He belonged to the local militia during the Battle of Mill Springs before he became a Union soldier. He claimed to kill Zollikoffer. Wilson also talks about Andy Baker and compares him to Boston.

Keywords: 1850; 1862; Baptist; Battle of Mill Springs; Battles; Denny Campbell; Felix Kirk Zollicoffer; Francis Clark; James Anderson Burns; Kentucky; Philadelphia; Section 16; Thompson; Winchester (Ky.); ego; illiterate; judges; letter; preachers; professors; school teachers; sermons; townships; union; vigor

Subjects: Appalachian Region--History; Baker family.; United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.

01:07:08 - Civil War division / Appalachian culture

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Partial Transcript: Anyway, the Civil War did divide a lot of families and, of course, a lot of the feuds that happened in the 1880s and '90s and up, even up to the 1930s a lot of the bad blood between families started back during the Civil War.

Segment Synopsis: Wilson talks about the regional lawlessness during the Civil War, and how the effects of this period lingered long after the end of the Civil War. He compares Appalachian stories to those of the Scotch-Irish. He talks about the attitude towards writers and the language of Appalachians. Talks about the ancestry of the Appalachian people and compares the region to Lexington. Wilson talks about early settlers living in the Appalachian region and eventually migrating elsewhere. Wilson talks about the pride of Appalachian people. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Co-Operative (Ky.); Confederate soldiers; Harry Caudill; Jackson County (Ky.); Laurel County (Ky.); Prohibition; Union soldiers; factions; families; feuds; generations; heritage; journalism school; land; renegades; writers

Subjects: Appalachian Region--History; Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Family--history