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Uncle Jack Fultz’s Memories of Carter County: Smoky Valley feuding

One of the more interesting aspects of old newspapers are the types of notices that would not grace the papers of today. 

These include notices of visitations, both to communities and from communities to other locations, messages about who was calling on whom in order to court (dating in modern parlance, but much more formalized), and what sort of amusements young people were engaged in on a weekend evening. There was no little editorializing within the contents of those stories and notices either. If you want an unbiased view, you sometimes have to read between the lines. 

The most interesting items, though, are the types that might be considered gossip today. For instance, salesmen from outside the region peddling items of lesser quality at higher prices. Some of these might simply be an attempt by local vendors to maintain their customers, but it could also serve as a legitimate warning of “flimflam men” and con artists, and be considered a valuable public notice not to be taken in. 

Some of my favorite, though, have to be the stories about fights and disagreements, which were none to uncommon. 

And when you’re talking about fighting and quarreling, it seems Smoky Valley must have been the place for feuding back in the day. Not even church houses were immune to arguments that led to blows and fisticuffs. According to the Olive Hill Times of the week, on Sunday, August 27, 1905 an argument at church ended in a fist fight between Walter Lahorn and Elmer Stallard. It must have been quite the scrap, as the paper noted that “no one (was) fatally hurt.” 

The brief notice, tucked in between an announcement of the James family visiting with the J.W. Fults family (perhaps an alternative spelling of Fultz) and a notice of Ms. W.F. Fults’ recent illness, doesn’t state what caused the fray. We suppose those details are the kind of thing that would have been shared by word of mouth amongst those “in the know.” 

Another fight, the following day, gives us a little more information about the cause. Though sparse in additional details it does tell us the quarrel was the result of an “old grudge” between R.T. Kennard, professor of the Smoky Valley School, and J.M. Rose, professor of the common school at “the head of the Fork of Kinney.” Rose struck Kennard twice before the fight was broken up by mutual friends. Though it tells us there was an old grudge, it doesn’t state what that grudge was about. Again, 

One of the more interesting aspects of old newspapers are the types of notices that would not grace the papers of today. 

These include notices of visitations, both to communities and from communities to other locations, messages about who was calling on whom in order to court (dating in modern parlance, but much more formalized), and what sort of amusements young people were engaged in on a weekend evening. There was no little editorializing within the contents of those stories and notices either. If you want an unbiased view, you sometimes have to read between the lines. 

The most interesting items, though, are the types that might be considered gossip today. For instance, salesmen from outside the region peddling items of lesser quality at higher prices. Some of these might simply be an attempt by local vendors to maintain their customers, but it could also serve as a legitimate warning of “flimflam men” and con artists, and be considered a valuable public notice not to be taken in. 

Some of my favorite, though, have to be the stories about fights and disagreements, which were none to uncommon. 

And when you’re talking about fighting and quarreling, it seems Smoky Valley must have been the place for feuding back in the day. Not even church houses were immune to arguments that led to blows and fisticuffs. According to the Olive Hill Times of the week, on Sunday, August 27, 1905 an argument at church ended in a fist fight between Walter Lahorn and Elmer Stallard. It must have been quite the scrap, as the paper noted that “no one (was) fatally hurt.” 

The brief notice, tucked in between an announcement of the James family visiting with the J.W. Fults family (perhaps an alternative spelling of Fultz) and a notice of Ms. W.F. Fults’ recent illness, doesn’t state what caused the fray. We suppose those details are the kind of thing that would have been shared by word of mouth amongst those “in the know.” 

Another fight, the following day, gives us a little more information about the cause. Though sparse in additional details it does tell us the quarrel was the result of an “old grudge” between R.T. Kennard, professor of the Smoky Valley School, and J.M. Rose, professor of the common school at “the head of the Fork of Kinney.” Rose struck Kennard twice before the fight was broken up by mutual friends. Though it tells us there was an old grudge, it doesn’t state what that grudge was about. Again, it’s probably one of those items that led to a lot of whispered stories over back fences and along country lanes. 

It’s also interesting how similar this sort of content is to items that now often circulate about social media and – while less common today – was a huge part of early online messaging boards and social media such as the now defunct Topix site, a refuge for gossip, hear say, and wild conjecture that eventually met the fate of several other earlier social media sites with the rise of Facebook and Twitter. 

Some things, apparently, never change even if the outlet for sharing them does. 

Editor’s Note: This is the 26th in a series of articles drawn from the historical newspaper clippings and documents in the scrapbooks of Jack Fultz. We thank Sally James of Sally’s Flowers in Olive Hill for sharing her uncle’s collected clippings with us and the community. – Jeremy D. Wells, editor, Carter County Times

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