Some one hundred years ago, Big Ugly Creek was a busy place. The county newspaper reported weekly on local events, mostly through correspondents who used such names as “Bobby,” “Rex,” “Blue Eyes,” and “Whistler” to inform readers of small but important news events. The timber industry, spear-headed by B. Johnson & Son of Richmond, Indiana, generated the most news, although other timber operations of a lesser size, such as Nelson-Brumfield-Shelton, also appeared in the newspaper.
“Bernie Ward, an employee of the Nelson-Shelton-Brumfield saw mill, got his right hand in some of the machinery early Monday morning and the member was badly lacerated,” the Lincoln Republican reported on December 21, 1911. “Dr. Hallanan dressed the wound.”
Timbering was dangerous business, and workers often made the news when they were injured or killed on the job.
“Floyd Payne was severely injured last Friday by a log rolling on him,” the Republican reported on October 12, 1911. “The fact that he was in the creek and the sand being somewhat quickey saved his life; he was thought to be dead when the log was rolled off of him, but he has since rallied and it is now thought that he may recover.”
It was a hard life for timber men, yet they occasionally found time for sports.
“An interesting game of ball was played on the Midkiff diamond Sunday between Midkiff and Leet, the score standing 8 to 4 in Midkiff’s favor in the sixth inning, when the game was called on account of rain,” the Republican reported on June 29, 1911. “Charley Pullen, the famous Morris Harvey twirler, pitched for Leet, while B. McComas was on the firing line for Midkiff. Walter Scites of the Hamlin team played short for Midkiff.”
Progress accompanied timber. Worth noting was the arrival of telephone service on the creek.
“The Citizens Telephone company is now stringing wire along Big Ugly,” the Republican wrote on December 21, 1911. “The new line will be open for business by the first of the year. Squire Spurlock is putting in the line.”
In addition to the daily goings-on of timber and the modernization of the creek, the county newspaper also wrote briefly on the progress of schools.
“Miss Lottie Lucas is teaching a good school at Leet,” the Republican wrote on October 12, 1911. “Miss Dollie Toney is teaching a very satisfactory school at the Toney school house. Clark Lucas is wielding the rod with good results at the Lefthand branch school house.”
The rural mail carriers were also men of importance in those days, worthy of mention in the newspaper.
“James P. Ferrell who is 76 years old carries the mail from Gill to Rector, 6 times a week and is always on time,” according to the Republican on October 12, 1911. “James Ferrell is yet very feeble but is improved somewhat,” the paper wrote in July of the following year. “For almost a quarter of a century Mr. Ferrell has been a mail carrier in Lincoln county. Albert Ferrell, his son, carries the mail at present.”
There were occasional oddities in local news, such as when the paper reported on the medicinal qualities of a local spring.
“The water at the Big Sulphur Springs above here is said to possess splendid medicinal properties and Huntington parties during the past week took some of it away for analysis,” the Republican wrote on July 25, 1912. “It is especially beneficial in affections of the stomach and kidneys.”
Birth records were on oft-reported bit of news in those times.
“Born: To Bruce Wheeler and wife a 10 pound son,” the Republican wrote on July 25, 1912. “A stillborn child came to the home of Lee Toney and wife last Friday.”
It was a matter of great concern when residents moved away from the creek.
“Charley B. Brumfield and family, who have resided at Big Branch of Big Ugly for many years, have moved to the McComas farm near Bradyville,” the Republican reported on December 7, 1911. “Their departure has caused general regret among their many friends at the place.”
In those days, sickness was a regular problem for local residents.
“Mrs. Squire Toney narrowly escaped death from blood poison last week but she is improving nicely now,” the Republican wrote on October 12, 1911. “Mrs. John Brumfield has been ill with stomach trouble,” the paper wrote later in December.
Accidents in daily life were also frequent in those days.
“Ossie, the 9 year old son of Jim Mullin, while playing in a sled with other lads at the school house below, met with an accident and sustained a fracture of the leg,” according to the Republican on December 21, 1911. “Dr. Hallahan set the broken bones.”
Death was treated with great sensitivity.
“Burley, the thirteen year old son of Chas. Lucas and wife, died last Wednesday, after a brief illness from a peculiar ailment,” the Republican wrote on December 7, 1911. “A day or so before his death he began to lose the use of the muscles of his arms and legs.” That same day, the paper reported: “Mr. and Mrs. Dutch Smith have the sympathy of the entire community in the death of their one year old son.”
“Grover, the 3 year old child of Al Nelson, of Pigeon Roost, fell in the fire place at his home while his parents were absent last Wednesday,” according to the Republican on December 21, 1911. “The little fellow was horribly burned about the abdomen and breast and died Saturday as a result of the horrible burns.”
Funerals were often preached months after a person was buried.
“The funeral of W.R. Duty, who died about a year ago, was preached last Sunday near Rector, by Rev. Chapman. There was a large crowd from all over the county, and a big dinner was served on the ground,” the Republican wrote on October 12, 1911.