[Editor’s Note — Following is an oral history by Letcher Sexton, which was recorded by his sister, Edrie Huff, in January 1979. It was later transcribed and printed in the Winter 1985 issue of the Scott County Historical Society newsletter, and was also published in the Fall 1991 edition of the FNB Chronicle. This is the first half of Sexton’s first recording in a series of three. The second half of the first recording will be the subject of the October 2018 Forgotten Times feature in the October 25, 2018 edition of the Independent Herald.]
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I’ll tell you about Caswell and Rachel.
R. Cecil Sexton. They were married the day before Christmas Eve, 1893. And they first moved into the second house north of the old Cornbread Tipple in a little town they called Almy on Paint Rock. And that house, it was only about 50 or 60 yards away from the coal tipple.
Now, I was born in that house. And I suspect that the wind, at times, blowed the coal dust across those houses along the north side there — especially when they had a south or a southeast wind. and at one time Mother took me and I was somewhere under two years old, and went home. She and Dad, apparently had an argument about something and I do not know what it was. And she stayed home three or four days and Dad finally went after her.
Then when I was about two years and a half old, he bought a place from Rev. William, or Bill, Ellis, with seven and a half acres of land. And there was another house on it and, as I kindly remember, it was up at the corner of the place toward the coal mine and it had a small basement under it, dug out, and Mack Dobbs, I think, lived there about that time.
Then on the south of our line of property, the Gilphins lived in a house very similar to ours. To the younger members of’ the family, they probably called it the Bryant house.
Then there was a little branch that came down across our old barn that separated this house over on the right from the house that was across the branch and just below our home place. And in that house, at the time, lived John Smith, who had a son, John, that I played with when I was around five years old.
Then, beyond that, was another house that William Pennington first lived in, that I can remember, and Balham Reed later moved into that house after William had moved out.
Around up to the side, in what was known as the Bess Duncan or Eb Laxton place at that time lived Wolford Phillips. And I used to play with Fred and Maude. There was in that family, Elvie, the oldest daughter; then Roy, the next son; and then Fred and Maude and Vaney and Elmer. Elmer was the baby then.
There, I think, I can remember my step-great-grandmother who was Elizabeth Newport and who was the second wife of my great-grandfather, Robert Sexton. The reason I seem to remember here, I went over to that place. Wolford had a little store up in the end next to the road. And somebody was in there, some man, and this Bess, they called her, came through the door. She wasn’t a very large woman, but she seemed very spunky. So she opened the door. She was dangling and old tooth on a string and this fellow spoke to her and said: “What have you got there on that string?”
She says: “I’ve got my tooth.”
“Well, who pulled it?”
Says: “I did.”
“How’d you pull it?”
“Oh, I tied the string around the door and slammed the door and it just jerked out!”
And that’s all I can remember about that.
Then, Latonia was born in this house that he had bought down there. And in April 1897. And as I think back, seemed like they said Arteemy was the midwife that made the delivery, ah, arrangement.
Then, a little later, brother Manford was born in 1899 at the instant I don’t remember the day of his birth, but I was large enough to remember Aunt Teemy West, they called her, who originally was the eldest daughter of great-grandfather Robert Sexton and his wife who was Lina Keeton. She was born in 1836, followed by Manuel Sexton, born in 1838. But Arteemy was busy there.
And I can also remember visiting there. Aunt Louraney and Aunt Missouri, my Dad’s sisters, and Aunt Winnie stayed with mother at that time. Uncle Jim Carson and my father added another section, the middle section, on the west side, kind of northwest side of the house. And after that was added, it was large enough that they put me to bed in the upstairs section. Before the addition of the house, and after the house was added, they moved the bed from this, we called the front room, to the added room. And I slept across from them in another bed, across from Dad and Mother, in another bed, with Latonia. And I was handy then, so Dad could holler in: “Time to get up and shake the fire!” And it would be about 4:30.
So I had to crawl out and go into the front room and shake the grate in the pot-bellied stove that we used at that time to keep heat. And he had the fire banked down with ashes on top of it. And when I shook the grate the fire heated up and warmed the house.
Then at five o’clock, Dad and Mother got up and he had to go to the barn and feed some stock he had, while Mother made breakfast and packed his lunch.
And at that time, he was a check weighman at the Cornbread Coal Mine tip house. He had been elected to that position by the coal miners as a check against the company weigh master to make sure that they got the right weight. And he stayed in that position until the Paint Rock Co., as it is called at that time, went down and out of business.
Later on, Col. Roberts took over and they did dump some coal at the old Cornbread Tip House, which was built clear across that hollow originally. But then, about 1902, when the railroad was extended from old Almy area, or near the commissary at old Almy, it took off to the right of the old Cornbread main track and extended down about two miles, to just below Jake’s Branch. And, about that time, a part of that trestle work was torn out.
Then we lived on in this two section of the house until around somewhere between 1908 and 1912 or ‘14. And John Jeffers and my Dad added the other section, the last section, to this house. Now, there was an old maple tree there, I was with Dad, just a little more than able to walk, when he went up in that hollow and dug up this maple, and set it out at the corner of the building. And that maple today is nearly two feet in diameter.
Dad had a way of telling time there, marked on the porch with two axe hacks, that when the son shone on the corner post and lined up with one of these, he knew what time it was by sun time. And I think I’ll end my story right there.