(If new to this site, scroll to bottom of page and click “Older Posts”, then scroll to Chapter One)
O’ Kinniconick Pioneers!
“Down the edges, through the passes,
Up the mountains steep.
Conquering, holding, daring, venturing
As we go the unknown ways,
From Walt Whitman’s epic poem
Soon after the dawn of the nineteenth century, the first brave family of settlers made their way up the valley of the Kinniconick and created a home in the wilderness. They would have arrived by flat boat at the mouth of the stream, a place then known as Boone’s Landing. Perhaps a Mountain Man had told them about a special cove or some rich bottoms in the delta of Kinney. They would not have traveled far from the Ohio River, these very first of the Pioneers, for the big river was a life line to civilization. We will never know their names, unfortunately, for no record exists, but the names of the Pioneers who followed them are recorded for posterity.
In about sixty years, from the early eighteen hundreds until the Civil War, the Kinniconick valley became home to many distinguished Kentucky families. One man recorded the genealogy and history of those pioneers, and his writings have influenced my research. Dr. William M. Talley was a retired university professor who lived out his life in Vanceburg. In an article for the Lewis County Herald, he described the creek from headwaters to mouth and named the families who lived there, a wonderful tribute to Kinniconick and its people. http://www.lewiscountyherald.com/kinnicon.htm
One of my favorite artists is Winslow Homer, as you may have guessed. He happened to name one of his watercolors “Pioneers”, and I think he captured the absolute thrill of those early settlers when they cleared a spot in the forest and began to build a home.
My father and mother and grandparents loved Kinniconick and passed their love on to me. It was my good fortune, as a young man, to clear my own piece of land and built a cabin on the creek. Years before, as a kid, I roughed it in cabins and camps on Middle Kinney and began to meet the good people whose ancestors were the Pioneers. So I do have stories to tell, and they will be told in subsequent chapters. Throughout those stories, names of the descendants of the Pioneers will be recalled, and they will include the following:
MCCARTY Joe and Calley McCarty lived on a farm on Pine Eddy when I was a boy. Joe’s grandfather came over from Ireland in about 1850 . The acreage I purchased in 1958 was part of the original McCarty farm. STAFFORD Jim, John and Field, Ray and Doris, and all of their kids. Stafford farms dotted the landscape from Kinniconick Post Office to Camp Dix. HAMILTON Harlan was my Dad’s good friend and vouched for me, a “city slicker”, when I searched for a cabin site.
ZORNES My good neighbors for twenty years. I purchased my sixty acre tract from the Zornes family in 1958. HOWARD Amos Howard was a legendary figure before I was born, local game warden and story teller, and my Dad’s friend. MCELDOWNEY Sam McEldowney was the game warden during my cabin years. He is known for the old, historic hotel he restored on Upper Kinney. The men who built my cabin stayed at his place and Sam was a good friend to me.
BERTRAM Dr. Herbert Bertram, Sr. (Doc) was a renowned musky fisherman and my Dad and I got to meet him back in the thirties. His son, Dr. Bertram, Jr. followed in his footsteps. BLANKENSHIP One of the Blankenship families lived for a time on a farm above the lower end of Pine Eddy, on the opposite side of the creek, accessible by swinging bridge during times of flood. PLUMMER George Plummer was County Clerk when I arrived on the scene, and I had some good visits with him at the courthouse in Vanceburg. STAMPER “Musky Joe” and his brother Commodore lived on Puncheon Eddy and used their tractor to pull my car out of the mud one spring.
I can now add the name of a new Kinniconick friend who recently discovered this blog: Amanda Lang of Augusta, Georgia loves Kinniconick, too. Descended from the ROES and STONES on her father’s side, and the LILES and BLANKENSHIPS on her mother’s side, Amanda grew up on a farm near the junction of routes 59 and 2524, on the banks of Kinney. Her grandmother’s cousin was Larkin Liles, a well-known woodsman whose rugged honesty won him a Governor’s reprieve. The very same grandmother, Grandma Nellie, served up biscuits and sorghum molasses to Amanda in those golden, olden days. Field Stafford and his wife, known to Amanda as “Shotgun” and “Boots”, were close friends and neighbors and made lasting impressions upon everyone who knew them. Amanda could see their place from a spot on her family’s farm, High Rock, and she saw the creek meandering far beyond, through the forested mountains that we love.