Each month, The Kentucky
Explorer magazine receives literally scores of letters from
our faithful readers. Whenever possible, we try to publish as
many of them as possible in the 12 pages we have set aside for
"Letters to the Editor."
Here are actual letters from September
Letcher County Man
Recalls Last Hanging
I would like to share an old newspaper article from Icie Miles
Collier Woodard's scrapbook. Unfortunately, the date is not
on the article, but it was published some time after 1938. Interestingly,
the price of the newspaper was "Ten Cents Per Copy."
Icie was my grandmother who was born in 1903 and died in 1973.
The article reads as follows: "Lewis Cook, 88, remembers
what he declares to be the last legal hanging in Letcher County,
"He should. He was the executioner. The last legal hanging
in Kentucky was June 3, 1938. Cook, as sheriff of Letcher County,
mounted the gallows one day back in 1909 to take his place beside
Floyd Frazier, who had been convicted of the murder of Mrs. Ellen
Flanery on nearby Pine Mountain. Two of those in the courtyard,
Cook said, were former teachers of Frazier, and he dressed them
down for having corrected him in his school days. Then, turning
to Cook, he said, 'Man, don't you have a heart?' Cook replied,
'Son, I'm performing my sworn duty.' By 'duty' in those days,
the sheriff personally was required to cut the rope. Cook was
a good mountain fiddler in younger years, 'but not any more,'
he says, 'too nervous.' He operated a mill at one time, and was
a carpenter, helping in the building of many homes in the mountainous
Eastern Kentucky district. He's retired now, and his main interest
is young people. Married three times, he reared nine children
and has many descendants. He says he doesn't know how many."
Billie Sue Graybeal
2327 Grant Avenue
St. Albans, WV 25177
Sheet Music Wanted
I would like to have sheet music to the songs I Can't Even Walk
Without You Holding My Hand and Who At My Door Is Standing.
Thanks to anyone who might send these to me.
P. O. Box 7291
Indian Lake Estate, FL 33855
Blue Eyes Fly Fishing Lure
I enjoy reading The Kentucky Explorer.
When I saw the house in the photo on page 37 in the June 2007
issue, I remembered the good times I had with my grandfather
and grandmother. They taught me how to fish and hunt and live
off the land.
I am 52 years old and live in South Carolina. Grandfather had
some family in Kentucky around Lexington, with the last names
of Smith and Bell. They sent him some fishing lures they called
Blue Eyes Fly from Kentucky which were wooden flies about one
inch long with legs, and he kept them in his tackle box. He also
had some old guns.
He left me these items at his death. While we were laying him
to rest, someone broke into his house and stole everything he
If any reader can share any information about the Blue Eyes Fly
from Kentucky, please contact me.
201 Stone Court
Summerville, SC 29483
Wants Words To Silly Poem
Following are a few lines from an old, silly poem I heard many
Me and my brother went a hunting, we did.
We tried it up a lappaw, papaw, sycamore, sourwood, and sapling.
Thirty feet above the top he banged away and missed and down
I picked it up by its two, four hind legs and throwed my shoulder
The original poem is very lengthy.
If any reader knows the rest of the words to this poem, I would
enjoy hearing from you.
11952 Crum Road
Winchester, OH 45697
Old Letters Available
I have in my possession numerous letters dating back to the early
1900s, even 1906 and 1908. They are from a Sgt. Claude Brown,
and I believe he was from Vevay, Indiana. Some of the subjects
mentioned are Mary, Duncan A. Brown (nephew), Golda G. Anderson,
and many others.
If an individual is interested in these letters, they are free.
All the stamps have been removed.
Joe M. Ritchie
2007 Pleasant View Drive
Elizabethtown, KY 42701