The Dallas Journal, Volume 46, 2000 Page: 4
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Autobiography of Charles V. Compton by Don Raney
from palatial homes. It is neither my purpose nor intention to defend the moon shiners who applied their unlawful
avocation in these communities , but there is and was a goodly amount of truth in their contention and philosophy.
The government, through its agents, proclaimed that alcohol or alcoholic liquor is harmful to all who consume it; that it
is a narcotic poison; that its use should be discouraged, but in the same breath states, if you will divide your profits or
pay a license to the government, it will grant to you the right to commit this wrong. In brief, why is my liquor more
harmful before I pay Uncle Sam a bribe than it is after I have acquired my license. All the men who operated illicit stills
were not considered bad. Regardless of the source, drinking was common and not considered too sinful. Even some of
the good preachers would sometime stake a drink, but the fact remained, liquor was a habit forming beverage and was
gradually and surely undermining the efficiency and morals of, not only the citizens of Pulaski County, but of every
other community where it was freely dispensed.
We love to think of our dear big hearted people in Kentucky. Weeds did not grow in the paths between neighbors. When
a cup of sugar, rice or meal was borrowed, it was promptly paid back plus a spoonful extra for good measure. Few had
matches - wood was of little value and in the big fireplaces in winter, the back log was the continued source of fire. If,
by chance, it burned up during the night, a run with a shovel in hand was hastily made the next morning to a neighbor,
often a half of a mile or more away. A knock at the door was an emergency call and in a jiffy, the door was opened, the
back log shaken, and the caller supplied with a shovel full of live red coals and like a streak, he would return, sometimes
through sleet or snow to a fireless home. The old expression; "What's your hurry, did you come for fire?" is an
expression still used by the old timers.
We seldom heard of real poverty in our neighborhood. Economy and thrift were the watch words of every family. I
have heard my mother, with a big laugh, tell this true story: One day cousin Calansy Compton about ten years old ran
into the house looking sad and dejected, and said: "We have had some bad luck. Sister Dora lost a needle this morning
and while we were looking for it, Ella lost a pin." (Calanza, Dora and Pernilia Isabell were daughters of Erasmus
Compton's brother, Harrison A. Compton and Sarah Rainwater.)
Kentucky was a part of Virginia until 1790, when it became a separate territory and was the second state admitted into
the Union in 1792. Kentucky did not secede from the Union during the Civil War, it endeavored to hold a position of
neutrality, resulting in friends and families being divided. After the smoke of many battles vanished from the fields of
carnage, the neighbors, who engaged in that terrible struggle, returned home, some wearing blue, some wearing grey,
often to live under the same roof. Naturally, conditions were tense. Earnest efforts were made by all good citizens to
In 1876 the presidential campaign between Hayes and Wheeler, Republicans and Tilden and Hendrick, Democrats; was
a spirited campaign, resulting in Hayes and Wheeler winning by one vote. Our family tried to remain neutral. Billie, age
5, would yell "Hurrah! for Tilden and Hendrick." Then I followed with "Hurrah! for Hayes and Wheeler." This stunt
was frequently enacted at public gatherings and created a friendly feeling among families divided and had a tendency to
break down secret barriers that silently slumbered in many bosoms.
As the months went by, plans were gradually being made for our future departure. As I now view it, there must have
been a certain amount of appraising from day to day, not so much of property as interpositions, events and
surroundings. Our forefathers, who landed at Plymouth seem to have set the pattern for the pioneers who located in
Pulaski County. They built their little houses, churches and school houses with their own hands, they cleared the forests,
and destroyed the stumps to prepare the land for cultivation. They split the rails, with which they enclosed their fields
and pastures. They raised their stock, sheared their sheep and converted the wool to cloth and then, by use of the old
spinning wheel, they converted the wool into thread. They raised their geese that furnished feathers for their beds and
They grew corn for the stock as well as for corn meal and whiskey. They made sugar from maple juice, tea from
sassafras roots, they had berries and vegetables several months each year, they had fruits galore and fields of tobacco,
which was their greatest source of revenue. Kentucky was the leading state in the production of tobacco. Statistics were
silent on the amount of money collected from the sale of apple and corn brandy. But it was in the old state of Kentucky
that a paradox was born. "The corn was in the kernel and the kernet in the corn."
Apple cider and home made sour kraut were the luxuries in abundance, which all shared. The immense pig crop was
ever unfailing. Pigs found their luxuries among the acorns, nuts and herbs of the forest, from which the hogs were called
home for their regular diet by a loud "Pig-gues." Hog calling was both an art and a science; men there are, even until
today, whose voices can fill the forests for a tremendous distance. How quickly the hogs learn their master's voice, and
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Dallas Genealogical Society. The Dallas Journal, Volume 46, 2000, periodical, June 2000; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth186859/m1/10/: accessed January 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Genealogical Society.