Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Euell Sumner, December 17, 1991

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:05 - Family history

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Partial Transcript: This is the University of Kentucky, uh, Family Farm Project, Cane Creek Study Area.

Segment Synopsis: Sumner provides a brief history of family members on both his mother's and father's side. He describes some of their occupations.

Keywords: Elizabethtown (Ky.); Grist mills; Hazard County (Ky.); Montgomery County (Ky.); Perry County (Ky.); Sawmills; Stanton (Ky.); Woodworking

Subjects: Crafts and decorating; Farm families; Farm life; Mills; Rural-urban migration

00:09:56 - Early homes for Sumner's family

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Partial Transcript: Now when you were born, you were born in this house?

Segment Synopsis: Sumner describes the houses his parents owned before the family settled permanently in Cane Creek. His family briefly moved to Hazard, Kentucky, but returned to Cane Creek before Sumner was to begin grade school.

Keywords: Childhood home; Greyhound Bus Company; Hazard County (Ky.); Sleeping arrangements; Upper Cane Creek (Ky.)

Subjects: Bus driving; Farm families; Mountain life; Rural schools

00:14:31 - Schools Sumner attended

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Partial Transcript: And you were going to school. Did you go to just one school here in--

Segment Synopsis: Sumner lists the various schools he attended in the area, up through high school. The interviewer remarks on why a student would need to change schools so many times, to which Sumner recalls that there had been an issue with overcrowding in Powell County schools at the time.

Keywords: Bowen (Ky.); Lower Cane Creek (Ky.); Rosslyn (Ky.); School buses; School overcrowding; Stanton (Ky.)

Subjects: Farm life; Mountain life; Rural schools; Transportation

00:17:31 - Father's jobs and learning agriculture

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Partial Transcript: And when your--and, okay, when your f--when you left Hazard, and came back to this location, your dad was still a, um, bus driver for Greyhound?

Segment Synopsis: Sumner lists the various jobs his father held, noting that his father, while always willing to help around the farm if asked, never appreciated the work in the way Sumner has. Sumner begins to discuss his formal training and education in agriculture, but the tape cuts off.

Keywords: Agriculture classes; Lumber mills; Public works; Stanton (Ky.); Stanton Farm Supply

Subjects: Agriculture; Farm life; Labor; Mountain life

00:19:03 - The well

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Partial Transcript: Okay, s--oh, okay, starting back with the, um--here around the farmhouse.

Segment Synopsis: Sumner describes the well on his farm, how it operates, and the enclosure built around it. He also relates his practice of placing a heating lamp in his well to prevent the water from freezing during the winter.

Keywords: Dug wells; Freezing; Light bulbs; Water

Subjects: Agriculture; Farm buildings; Farm life; Irrigation; Mountain life; Technological innovation; Tobacco farming; Wells

00:22:23 - The outhouse / fences

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Partial Transcript: And there's an outhouse around back, uh, how long was th, was that used before you went to an indoor, um, restroom?

Segment Synopsis: Sumner describes the outhouses and fencing found on his property. He does not recall when the house switched to an indoor toilet, but he notes that the outhouse is still used in the wintertime and as a sort of decoration.

Keywords: Fences; Outhouses; Plank fencing

Subjects: Farm buildings; Farm life; House construction; Mountain life; Sewage

00:24:24 - Buildings in the farm yard

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Partial Transcript: If you don't mind, could you, on this piece of paper, draw me a sketch map look, looking down on top of the farmstead.

Segment Synopsis: As part of the interviewer's request to draw a map of the property, Sumner describes the location of past and present farm buildings and their uses.

Keywords: Barns; Cattle; Chicken coops; Corn cribs; Furniture; Log buildings; Outhouses; Smokehouses; Wells; Woodworking; Workshops

Subjects: Agricultural innovations; Agriculture; Agriculture--Economic aspects; Farm buildings; Farm life; Home economics; Livestock

00:32:00 - Spaces and storage on the farm

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Partial Transcript: Did you have hogs also?

Segment Synopsis: Sumner continues his description of the farmyard, speaking specifically about spaces like the hog yard, the garden, the garage, and where the firewood and coal were stored. He also discusses the family's practice of canning and soap making.

Keywords: Coal; Firewood; Garage; Gardens; Hog lot; Scalding fan; Slaughtering; Soap making

Subjects: Agricultural innovation; Agriculture; Canning and Preserving; Farm life; Home economics; Livestock; Slaughtering and slaughter-houses; Soap; Swine

00:36:31 - Sorghum / coal source

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Partial Transcript: Or how 'bout, uh, sorghum?

Segment Synopsis: Sumner discusses his family's production of cane syrup, as well as how his family used to buy small amounts of coal to heat their home prior to the arrival of gas heating.

Keywords: Cane; Coal mines; Gas heating; Hazard (Ky.); Sorghum

Subjects: Agriculture; Farm life; Heating; Home economics

00:38:24 - Utilities / gardening / firewood

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Partial Transcript: Uh, when did it, uh--so was there electricity when you were a young kid here?

Segment Synopsis: Sumner discusses the arrival of electricity in Cane Creek, the location and types of gardens on his family farm, and the location of the firewood and coal piles.

Keywords: Electric company; Flowers; Fruit trees; Gas heating

Subjects: Gardening; Heating; Home economics; Rural electrification; Rural public utilities

00:40:22 - Bench fields

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Partial Transcript: And did you have names for certain fields? Like did you do any, any names for the fields?

Segment Synopsis: Sumner discusses the fields adjacent to his farm, noting their names and how they were cleared. He elaborates on the bench fill technique, noting that farming on the hillside offered more fertile soil than the bottom areas, so it offered an incentive to poorer farmers who could not afford the necessary fertilizers for bottomland fields.

Keywords: Bench farming; Bench fields; Bench fills; Corn; Fertilizer; Names; Property; Tobacco

Subjects: Agricultural innovations; Agriculture; Agriculture--Kentucky--Powell County; Farm life; Mountain life; Soil productivity; Terracing; Tobacco farming

00:42:44 - Fences and fruit cellar

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Partial Transcript: What kind of fences did your uncle have around the f--

Segment Synopsis: Sumner describes the type of fence that ran around the farm, as well as the fruit cellar his family had constructed in order to preserve the garden and fruit tree produce. The cellar was insulated with sawdust and used a lantern for heat in wintertime.

Keywords: Fencing; Fruit cellars; Heat lamps; Plank fences; Sawdust; Wire fences

Subjects: Agricultural innovations; Agriculture; Canning and preserving; Farm buildings; Fences; Home economics

00:45:28 - Trash disposal / eggs / hunting

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Partial Transcript: Where did your mother, grandmother take the trash?

Segment Synopsis: Sumner discusses his family's methods for disposing of trash, as well as the uses for the chickens and eggs on his property. On the subject of hunting, Sumner relates that he hunts only for sport, noting that his family's wealth was never so low that they would need to hunt to sustain themselves.

Keywords: Bird hunting; Deer hunting; Eggs; Foxes; Glass refuse; Trash burning

Subjects: Farm buildings; Home economics; Hunting; Incineration; Refuse and refuse disposal

00:48:32 - Shopping / children's activities / pets

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Partial Transcript: Uh, where'd your family get your clothes when you were growing up?

Segment Synopsis: Sumner discusses catalogs used by his family to buy goods. Though he notes that his mother often made clothes for the family, they purchased goods regularly from department store catalogs. Sumner also talks about activities he remembers from when he was a child, and the family dog.

Keywords: Dog food; Fishing; Montgomery Ward catalog; Sears catalog; Spiegel catalog; Swine; Table scraps

Subjects: Commercial catalogs; Farm life; Home economics; Mountain life; Outdoor recreation for children; Pets

00:50:58 - Peddlers / drainage tile

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Partial Transcript: You say when your, when your parents needed to buy something they usually would go to Stanton...

Segment Synopsis: Sumner recalls traveling salespeople who visited his family when he was younger, and the things his family typically purchased. He also describes the tile drainage used on his family farm and how that method has changed through his life.

Keywords: Lemon extract; McNess; Peddlers; Tile drainage; Vanilla extract

Subjects: Drainage; Farm life; Mountain life; Traveling sales personnel

00:55:04 - Family members / army reserves / state assistance

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Partial Transcript: So you were married in, in '62--

Segment Synopsis: Sumner talks about his family members and his call-up from the Army Reserves during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He also talks about the help he's received from the UK extension office and federal aid, which has contributed significantly to Sumner's plans for the farm.

Keywords: Army reserve; Barns; Cuban Missile Crisis; Federal aid; International Business Machines Corporation; Ponds; University of Kentucky

Subjects: Agriculture; Cattle; Children; Farm buildings; Farm life; Fences; Land-Grant University Cooperative Extension Service; Military service, Voluntary; Tobacco farming