First timer? In this (hopefully) once-a-day blog, I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48). I call this “landing.” I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near. I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.
Dan – Wow. I’m up to a phenomenal 8/10 (and a new record low Score, of course) with today’s landing in a solid USer . . .KY; 18/24; 8/10; 5; 151.1. Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River and the town of Confluence (but perhaps more interestingly, Hazard):
It turns out the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River is a new river (my 1033rd river); on to the Kentucky (5th hit, making the Kentucky the 126th river on my list of rivers with 5 or more hits); on to the Ohio (113th hit); on to the MM (708th hit).
I checked out Confluence, and could find absolutely nothing about it. It was evidently named after the confluence of both the Wilder Branch and the Grassy Branch with the Middle Fk of the Kentucky River. Neither the Wilder Branch nor the Grassy Branch appears to be any more than little creeks. I’m surprised that they named the town after such an inauspicious confluence.
Anyway, here’s a broader view featuring Hazard:
Of course, the Dukes of Hazard comes to mind immediately, and, in fact, there is a connection. From Wiki:
Founded in 1790, the town of Hazard, as well as Perry County, is named after U.S. Navy Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, known for his victory report during the War of 1812 when he stated, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” The town was initially known as Perry Court House, though some reports note that locals had always referred to the area as “Hazard”. The town’s name was officially changed to Hazard in 1854.
Wasn’t Oliver Hazard Perry the guy who said “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes?” I’ll have to check. (Although, if you’re on a ship you can’t wait that long to fire on the enemy! What am I thinking??? ) Back to Wiki:
Long isolated by the surrounding mountains, Hazard met the outside world with the arrival of the railroad in 1912. Previously, the only ways in or out of the valley were 45 miles down the North Fork of the Kentucky River (which meets up with the Middle Fork to become the Kentucky River), or an arduous trip over the surrounding mountains.
The CBS television series The Dukes of Hazzard got its name from Hazard, Kentucky. To avoid legal problems, the producers added an extra “Z” and set the show in a fictional county in Georgia.
This about Commodore Perry from Wiki:
At Perry’s request during the War of 1812, he was given command of United States naval forces on Lake Erie. He supervised the building of a small fleet at Dobbin’s Landing in Presque Isle Bay in Erie, Pennsylvania. On September 10, 1813, Perry’s fleet defended against an attacking British fleet at the Battle of Lake Erie. Perry’s flagship, the USS Lawrence, was destroyed in the encounter and Perry was rowed a half-mile through heavy gunfire to transfer command to the USS Niagara, carrying his battle flag (reading “DONT GIVE UP THE SHIP”, the final words of Captain James Lawrence). Perry’s battle report to General William Henry Harrison was famously brief: “We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.”
Hmmm. Nothing about the whites of anybody’s eyes. From Wiki:
The famous order “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes” was popularized in stories about the Revolutionary War battle of Bunker Hill. However, it is uncertain as to who said it, since various histories attribute it to anyone of four revolutionary soldiers (Putnam, Stark, Prescott or Gridley), and it may have been said first by one, and repeated by the others. It was also not an original statement. The earliest similar quote came from the Battle of Dettingen in1743, where Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Andrew Agnew of Lochnaw warned his Regiment, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, not to fire until they could “see the white’s of their e’en.”
(What the heck is an e’en?)
The phrase was also used by Prince Charles of Prussia in 1745, and repeated in 1755 by Frederick the Great. Whether or not it was actually said at Bunker Hill, it was clear that the Colonial military leadership were regularly reminding their troops to hold their fire until the moment when it would have the greatest effect, especially in situations where their ammunition would be limited.
If I had half a brain, I never would have let this “whites of their eyes” thing make it all the way from my confused brain to this post. Oh, well . . .
Here’s the Perry Victory (and International Peace) Monument at Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island in Lake Erie (north of Sandusky; about 40 miles east of Toledo):
Moving right along to Hazard. Hazard is an old coal mining town. Here’s a write-up about coal company towns common in this part of coal country:
Coal companies built “coal patch” or “coal camp” villages and towns near their coal mines throughout Kentucky and other coal mining states. Coal patch villages and towns differed from other villages and towns in that they were not incorporated, did not have elected officials and were wholly owned by the coal company which controlled who lived within their confines. The coal company generally provided lots for churches and schools to be built.
Here’s one near Hazard, the Blue Grass Coal Company Camp:
And another one from just east of Hazard (the “town” of Hardburly):
I can’t help but think about good ol’ Tennessee Ernie Ford, and his hit song “Sixteen Tons” (which I loved as a kid back in the ‘50s). From Wiki:
“Sixteen Tons” is a song about the misery of coal mining, first recorded in 1946 by U.S. country singer Merle Travis . A 1955 version recorded by ‘Tennessee’ Ernie Ford reached number one in the Billboard charts.
A controversy surrounds the authorship of “Sixteen Tons”. It is generally attributed to Merle Travis. However, Kentucky ex-coalminer and singer/songwriter George S. Davis (1904–1992), claimed to have written this song in the 1930s. Davis’ 1966 recording of his version of the song is preserved on the albums George Davis: When Kentucky Had No Union Men.
Here are selected lyrics from “Sixteen Tons:”
Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man’s made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that’s a-weak and a back that’s strong
You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store
I was born one mornin’ when the sun didn’t shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said “Well, a-bless my soul”
If you see me comin’, better step aside
A lotta men didn’t, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don’t a-get you
Then the left one will
For a link to YouTube & Ernie singing Sixteen tons (with an intro by Dinah Shore), click here. I think he’s great!
When I was a kid, I enjoyed watching the Tennessee Ernie Ford show on TV. Let me tell you something that I remember clearly to this day. This was live TV, and Ernie was doing a commercial for Green Giant frozen peas. Don’t ask me why, but he had a single pea in a little cup as a prop for the commercial. Ad libbing, Ernie said “I’ve got a little pea in this cup.” He looked mortified, and burst out laughing. (OK, so maybe it was planned, but I thought it was the funniest thing ever.) My whole family was watching (as we were wont to do back in the day), and all of us (especially my father the minister) were cracking up.
So, back to Hazard. I stumbled on this interesting bit of medical lore:
The blue Fugates were a tight-knit family living in the Appalachian Mountains. The patriarch of the clan was Martin Fugate, who settled along the banks of Troublesome Creek near Hazard, Kentucky, sometime after 1800. His wife, Mary, is thought to have been a carrier for a rare disease known as hereditary methemoglobinemia, or met-H.
Due to an enzyme deficiency, the blood of met-H victims has reduced oxygen-carrying capacity. Instead of being the usual bright red, arterial blood is chocolate brown and gives the skin of Caucasians a bluish cast. Hereditary met-H is caused by a recessive gene. If only one parent has this gene, the person will be normal, but if they both have it, there’s a good chance he’ll be blue.
None of Martin and Mary Fugate’s descendants would have been blue had they not intermarried with a nearby clan, the Smiths. The Smiths were descendants of Richard Smith and Alicia Combs, one of whom apparently was also a met-H carrier.
Because of inbreeding among the isolated hill folk–the Fugate family tree is a tangled mess of cousins marrying cousins–blue people started popping up frequently thereafter. A half dozen or so were on the scene by the 1890s, and one case was reported as recently as 1975.
Television stations tried to interview them, but were repeatedly chased away.
In 1960 a doctor named Madison Cawein heard about the blue Fugates and succeeded in tracking down several of them. He was able to diagnose the problem fairly quickly and prescribed a simple, if temporary, cure–the chemical methylene blue, which replaced the missing enzyme in the blood. The results were dramatic. Within minutes after getting a dose, the blue Fugates became a normal pink for the first time in their lives.
Here’s a picture of the Fugates, which looks like somebody simply colored the faces blue:
I’ll close with this story and picture about Robert Kennedy’s 1968 visit to Eastern Kentucky (including Hazard) during an early 1968 campaign swing. From Thomas Bethell writing in the “Daily Yonder – Keep it Rural” website:
. . . it was only after Robert Kennedy was martyred, a few months after his Appalachian tour, that we all decided he was genuine in his determination to battle poverty. It wasn’t by any means so clear at the time, especially to some of us who watched him at close range as he toured Eastern Kentucky. There was the question of his timing, for one thing. He didn’t begin maneuvering his way into the race for the presidency in 1968 until Eugene McCarthy showed that Lyndon Johnson could be challenged.
So, more than a faint odor of opportunism trailed Kennedy as he made his way into the Appalachian heartland. And he was significantly shorter on specifics than on star power. Robert Kennedy had that, of course, and something more. From a distance, he looked to be holding aloft once again the flame of hope that had been all but snuffed out on November 22, 1963. And by 1968 millions of Americans were desperate for any sign of hope . . .
. . . Soon, of course, an assassin’s bullet would leave us all in limbo, never knowing what Robert Kennedy might or might not have done to make his Appalachian tour the beginning of something genuinely transformative. My first impression might have been completely wrong. He might have been a wonderful president, the first since Franklin Roosevelt to offer real and lasting hope for hard-pressed people, rural and urban alike. Or not. In the winter-spring of 1968 it was much too soon to tell, and the summer never came. But it’s a measure of how desperate some of us were that we suppressed private doubts and wrote glowing accounts of his tour. Over the ensuing decades that tour has acquired the aura of something more spiritual than political.
Here’s a picture of Bobby in Hazard:
That’ll do it.
© 2009 A Landing A Day