My great-grandfather, Raleigh Dixon, told a story about how his father,
Alonzo Dixon, became a mountain healer.
Alonzo was a baptist preacher and blacksmith in Johnson County in the
late 1800's, probably some time after 1880.
The story goes that one day Alonzo was shoeing a horse when it kicked
him in the leg. The resulting wound festered, and nothing Alonzo tried
cured it. He soon became desperate. Then he remembered hearing about a
man living in the hills of Johnson County who was supposed to be a
Alonzo tracked this man down and went to pay him a visit. After looking
at Alonzo's wound, the old mountain man went to work. He struck two
flints together, letting the sparks fall onto the wounds, while he mumbled
some words that Alonzo didn't understand. Afterwards, he told Alonzo
that the wound would start itching around midnight that night, but not to
bother it because it would be healing. Alonzo, feeling like a fool,
left and returned home.
Sure enough, around midnight that night Alonzo was awakened by a fierce
itching on his leg. He remembered the healer's warning and didn't
bother it. The next morning, the wound was already beginning to dry up.
Within a few days it was completely healed.
Alonzo was fascinated, and a little embarrassed about doubting the
healer's abilities. He sought the man out again, only this time he begged
the old man to tell him what he had done. The healer only told him that
it was bad luck for a healer to tell his secrets. Alonzo again returned
home disappointed, sure he would never learn how the old man had healed
Several years later, the healer's wife showed up on Alonzo's doorstep.
She told him that it was indeed bad luck for a healer to teach another
man the healing secrets. However, a healer could teach the secrets to a
woman, and because it was also bad luck for a woman to practice the
secrets, she had to teach them to another man. Before the old healer had
died, he had taught the secrets to her and instructed her to find Alonzo
and teach them to him.
My great-grandfather swore that as a child he had witnessed his father
using the healing secrets.
Posted by Melissa Dixon
-For the past 100 years, residents of Butler and surrounding counties have been listening to the hair-raising tale of the ghost of Skull Bone Cave.
It has been whispered from one wide-eyed generation to another in the flickering firelight of the homes that dot the foggy valley and wooded hills in which the haunting occurred.
During the early days of Kentucky, the story goes, Indians killed a woman and child and ravaged the home of a settler near Mile Tree Hill, a short distance from Caneyville in southern Grayson County.
When the man of the house returned and discovered the sickening sight, he vowed to avenge the murders. He immediately set out with his dog in search of an Indian party that he believed to be responsible.
Several miles away, near the banks of Coopers Creek in what is now northeastern Butler County, he came upon an Indian shelter and lay in wait for his prey. Seeing only one Indian in the camp, the settler leveled his rifle and fired, the fatal shot striking its target.
Worried that other Indians might seek reprisal if they found their companion, the settler stuffed a cloth in the wound, and covering his tracks as best he could, moved the dead Indian to a bluff on a nearby hillside.
There he buried his victim, in a shallow grave in the soft earth on the floor of a natural limestone cavern, hidden among the large beeches and oaks that surrounded it.
Several decades later, Mason Embry, who was born in Madison County in
1828, came to own vast tracts of land in northeastern Butler County, including
the ominous looking cavern.
Being a great hunter, and some what of an adventurer, Embry decided to search the cavern floor for remains of the Indian's grave. Indeed, we are told that he found part of a skeleton, including the skull, which he removed and took with him as proof of his discovery.
He fitted the skull on the end of a stick and made for himself a macabre tool-a kind of crude hoe that he used for covering his seed corn at planting time.
There is little doubt that a skull did exist. Clyde Embry, 79, a respected
citizen of Grayson County and a grandson of Mason Embry, says his father
told him that he had seen the skull and
had helped cover corn with it.
Likewise, Joan Sauaders of Leitchfield, a step-great-granddaughter of Mason Embry, and author of genealogical quarterly "Silent Footsteps," says that her grandfather and father both told her identical stories about the skull.
It was a frightening episode in the family's history, one that may never be forgotten. Almost immediately after Mason Embry started using the skull to cover his corn, bone-chilling screams began to haunt his nightly hunting excursions.
They followed the hunting party, screaming like a human in agony, terrifying the horses and dogs and unnerving the hunters.
Repeatedly the fearless Embry and his companions sought to discover the source of the blood-curdling screams, but to no avail. They sometimes spurred their horses homeward at a fast gallop, hoping to outrun the tormenting screams. It was no use, the invisible shrieks stayed right at their backs-as if at any moment the party might be overtaken and devoured.
Embry was increasingly disturbed by the screams, and family members told of how, one night the cries were so close on his heels that he jumped his horse across the draw-bars at his front gate, then rushed to the house where he waited at the front door with a shotgun, staring into the empty darkness as the awful screams taunted him from the gate.
Convinced that the screams were the spirit of the dead Indian whose grave he had desecrated, Embry returned the skull to the cave and re buried it the very next day. The horrifying screams ceased, never to be heard again. But they wee never forgotten by Embry and his family.
Years later someone asked Mason Embry's wife if she would recognize the
sound if she ever heard it again.
"Would I know the sound of my own son's voice?" she replied. "It is a
sound I will never forget." Embry died in the summer of 1897 at the age of 71. The log barn in which he carded wool is still standing, within sight of what has come to be known as Skull Bone Cave.
Many have looked at the cave and wondered if the curse of the dead descends on those who disturb their eternal rest. Mason Embry died believing it did.
Taken form the Courier-Journal, written by Byron Crawford
Posted by: Elaine Miles
Around 1953 my maternal grandmother Lillie Valentine Stearns told me a
story about her childhood days and how she saved one of their family's
well-loved horse's from being sold. GrGrandpa Ed Valentine had decided
to sell the horse and had arranged for a gentleman to stop by one
afternoon (around 1897-98) to see the animal. Grandma, along with her
younger siblings, Fred and Julia, were heartbroken. Scheming all
morning, they came up with what they thought was the perfect plan to
keep the horse. The three quickly set about putting their plan into
action. All too soon, the gentleman arrived to see the horse and so Ed
took him to the barn. As they approached the horse, he flicked his
tail, let out a loud snort and began to buck. Ed tried to calm him
down, but the more he tried, the harder the horse fought. Finally, the
man muttered angrily that he wanted no part of such a "wild" animal and
stomped off, with Ed on his heels, apologizing. Meanwhile, out in the
barn, Grandma Lillie s!
tepped up and pulled a scratchy little piece of dried-up corncob from
beneath the horse's tail where she had tied it earlier. The kids
laughed happily and the "wild" horse nuzzled them each in turn. Grandpa
never did figure out what went wrong with that "crazy" horse. And, he
didn't try to sell him after that either, much to the children's
I don't know if it would be possible to tie a cob beneath a horse's
tail, but my Grandma swore it was the truth. What do you think?
Posted by Joanne Burkett
Lester Calhoun was my great great grandfather it is a well Known legend
through my family
that Lester was the first born to Jefferson Davis. My dad was raised by his grandfather who
married Lester’s daughter Elizabeth “Betty” she told my dad many stories about how Lester
was the son of Jefferson Davis and how he was wanted by both sides of the civil war.
I have done some research on this story and can not prove nor disprove
I have found that Lester’s mother was a Davis by birth, and that the two may have been
cousins. I also found that they lived in the same area at one time. This leads me to believe
that Jefferson Davis may have had a child with his cousin and did not want this to be known.
At the same time the north may have heard about this and wanted him for propaganda.
Lester was born about 1830, It is thought that his name may have been James Lester or William L. Calhoun or Lister” Davis ( Calhoun ) and changed it to Lester to avoid his situation. His mother was Jennie Davis dau of John Davis of N.C. Lester lived and died in K.Y. Jefferson Davis was born between 1807 and 1808 in K.Y. during the time Lester was born he was second lieutenant, serves in what is now Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arkansas. Before that he was in Kentucky In 1835 he marries Sarah Knox Taylor in K.Y. in 1845 he marries an 18 year old Varina Banks Howell.
It should be noted that Jefferson Davis makes no mention ( That I have
found )of Lester
Calhoun but this story is very real to my family.
Jefferson Davis' Speech Recommending John C. Calhoun
State Democratic Convention
Jackson, Mississippi, January 8, 1844
Though instructed by the delegation from Warren to cast the vote of our
county, in this
convention, for Mr. [Martin] Van Buren, as the presidential candidate, I hope I will be
excused for availing myself of the nomination of Mr. Calhoun, to express some of my opinions, as an individual, in relation to the comparative claims these gentlemen have upon us.
Posted by: Paul Bailey
A STORY TOLD TO ME BY MY UNCLE LEROY LAFORCE ABOUT MY
GREAT GRANDFATHER AND GREATGRANDMOTHER, iN 1880 HE WAS THE SHERIFF OF WILLIAMSBURG,KY, HE WAS HOLDING A PRISONER IN THE JAIL. SOME OF THE TOWN'S CITIZEN'S DECIDED TO MOB THE JAIL AND HANG THIS PRISONER. IT WAS A TWO STORY JAIL AND GREAT GRANDMOTHER LAFORCE STOOD IN THE SECONDFLOOR WINDOW AND POURED BOILING WATER DOWN ON THE MOB WHILE WILLIAM LAFORCE TOOK THE PRISONER OUT THE BACK DOOR TO ANOTHER COUNTY. GREAT GRANDMOTHER LAVINA LAFORCE WAS SAID TO HAVE BEEN A FIREY AND SPKUNKY LADY ALL HER LIFE. THERE WERE MANY STORIES ABOUT THESE TWO PEOPLE,WHO LIVED AN EXCITING LIFE,THEY ARE BUIRED IN THE HENRYETTA,OKLAHOMA CEMETARY.
Posted by: Mary Catherine Coc
"Aunt Gertie was trying to tell me how we were related to Jefferson Davis.
Grandfather (Charles U.) LOCKWOOD used to say that J. D. was his own cousin,
but he would just as soon shoot
him down as he would a hog (Civil War Animosities) & I think she means that Jefferson Davis' mother & Great-Grandfather LYON were brother and sister. Some day when I have time, I'll try to figure it all out. Ruth 4-20-1979"
Cousin Ruth's first record requests concerning this family story, to which
I have the replies, began in 1929, fifty years before she wrote this notation.
I had learned this story as a child. The above note of Cousin Ruth,
was on the reverse side of a transcription of Grandaunt "Gertie's"
notes, which read, "Jefferson Davis' mother & Great-Grand-father LYON were bro. & sister. His mother...married a DAVIS. - Grandmother LYON was a MORROW." Charles Urban LOCKWOOD m. Sarah Ann LYON, the dau. of Reason D. LYON and Ann Magdalen MORROW. Reason D. purportedly stands for DAVIS, whose brother's middle initial supposedly stood for EMERY. Reason D. LYON, b. 16 Dec 1797, Bourbon Co. KY.
The KY-MORROW's were numerous descendants of the Virginia MORROW'S.
I have seen the official Jefferson DAVIS Papers web site on his genealogy. It did not show any siblings of Jefferson's father Samuel Emory DAVIS, and Jane COOK. www.ruf.rice.edu/~pjdavis/jdp.htm
"Gertie" and Ruth both left family charts. "Gertie" with her chart of
the ancestry of both Jefferson and our family, and Ruth with the purported
lineage, showing my 3rdGrgrand- father, Reason Davis LYON, as the 1st cousin
to Jeff DAVIS, with one vital link missing, his mother DAVIS' given name
that is purportedly this sister of Samuel Emory DAVIS, that she shows as
the father of Jefferson DAVIS. They are both shown to be the children
of Evan DAVIS and Mary (Emory)
WILLIAMS. That vital link is again missing on the official web page, "Genealogy of the Davis Family", where Samuel Emory DAVIS is shown to be an ONLY child. If, in this case,
the term "cousin" is defined at we understand it to be today, and these middle names are not mere fantasy of my cousin, could there be other unadmitted children, aside from the slavery issue, as none of us have black features?
All our other genealogy is serious and all that has been completed falls nicely into place. Our LYON and MORROW families, that should connect in KY with Jefferson DAVIS, are found to be in Bourbon County, KY. However, TODD Co. is not in close proximity to Todd County, KY.
Isn't it wonderful to have all this handed down without any documentation to prove it? Perhaps the Internet can speed up the process, so that I am not writing letters for 50 years, only to note at the end of those 50 years, "Some day when I have time, I'll try to figure it all out."
If Evan DAVIS and Mary Emory Williams did have only one legitimate son, Samuel Emory Davis, were there others unadmitted?
Or were my predecessors jumping to conclusions based on a statement that
could have meant a number of things. Was Charles Urban LOCKWOOD's statement
a general one of
anyone named DAVIS, and misunderstood. Or, was he full of it? Or, if that was the case, why is this story taken so seriously by each generation prior to me?
Posted by: Sandi Goetze
The following story was sent to me by a cousin who did not know where
it came from. I have typed everything that was on the xerox copy that she
sent me. James C. Musick was b.in 1806 in NC. but moved to KY. If anyone
knows where this came from, I would be so pleased to hear it so that I could
give proper credit to the author. I am also willing to share my Musick Family
Excerpt from the Mountain Chronicle: March 1983
The Kaintuck Wagon Road and the trails through Cumberland and Pound gaps
were well-defined highroads when James Musick decided to move his family from
the vicinity of Washington County, Virginia to Floyd County, Ky.(Washington
County was divided over a period of time into Russell, Smythe, Lee, Scott,
Buchannan, Wise and Dickenson counties -
it is not clear what part was the location of this family.) However the journey was made, by wagon or horseback, it must have been a weary trek for the forty-year-old wife and nine children, ranging from the twenty-two year old daughter to the year-old baby son yet
come they did around 1849 or 50.
We can imagine that their journey was made easier by the hospitality
of the occasional cabin along the way where they may have received food
and shelter. But the people back then were used to depending upon themselves
therefore, likely the Musicks had set out well-prepared for
the trip. (This name is found on all records spelled Musick , but descendants have dropped the final -k from the name.)
James Musick had been born in North Carolina around the year 1806.Since the push of the population was westward, James Musick emigrated into south-western Virginia. Here, in this area, he was married to Mariah Shell Some transcribers give her name Martha, obviously an error. Mariah (pronounced then Mariar) was born in Tennessee around 1810. Their first child was born in Tennessee around 1828 - Mary A. The next eight children were born in Washington County, Virginia two others after their arrival in Kentucky.
Besides Mary A., these children were John-b. 1832 Andrew-b.circa 1834 Abraham-b.ca. 1836 a daughter Ferby (Phoebe)-b.1839 Archibald-b.ca. 1841 Newton-b.ca.1844 Louisa-b.ca. 1845 and Milton, the last of the children born in Virginia,b.ca. 1848.
After the arrival of the family in Kentucky, another daughter and son were born-Emmaline-b. 1852, and James K. -b. 1857 Abraham wed Batha (Rachael) Collins on July 3,1857.
To the census taker James Musick gave as his occupation "Blacksmith." It seems that all the men in the Musick family were skillful at such tasks as smithing, milling, stonemasonry, carpentry. James Musick was said to something of a gunsmith and was supposed to have kept the best gun in the community.
In order to raise a little money, one practice of the time was that a man would sell a set number of chances on a beef and then "rifle off" the beef with a shooting match. All chances were sold prior to the day the match was to be held. Each chance or shot sold for perhaps twenty-five cents and was for one quarter of the animal.
The first round of the shooting was for the choice of the quarters of the beef the second round for the second choice and so on until the entire animal was accounted for. If a man had paid for several chances, and after the first round of shooting he saw that he had been beaten, he could then use another of his shots to try again to win or he could wait and try for the next quarter coming up. Jim Musick's gun was always on loan to some of the neighbors unless he or some of his sons were involved in the shooting match.
James Musick walked with a slight limp which in no way seemed to hinder him. He was known to strip up his britches legs and show horribly scarred calves and thighs on either leg.
This is the story James Musick told: While living in Virginia he
often hunted with a companion. One day in early winter while in the
woods, they approached a cliff, and in a crevice in the rock they noticed
hair where an animal had rubbed against the sides of the walls.
Examining it closely, Jim said, "Bear! He's holed up in there, sleepin' the sleep of the jest! I'll get 'im!"
Taking his gun, Jim ventured into the crack in the rock and after a few feet discovered he was entering a cave. Feeling around in the dark, he touched the sleeping animal. Scratching and rubbing its flank, Jim worked his way to the animal's head. The bear merely gave a grunting sound and barely seemed to be breathing. But suddenly, Jim encountered the head of a second bear! Returning to the outside, Jim explained the situation to his companion. "Thar's two uv'em. Now we'll both crawl in. I'll take one head and you take t'other. We'll set our gun muzzles in their yers an' I'll say, 'Ready? Fire!' an' at 'Fire!' we'll both shoot at the same time an' git 'em both. There's no danger. Jest scratch yourn along the flank and rub 'im around the yer a little, an' he'll jist sleep right on."
The other hunter agreed to the plan. Into the crevice of the rock they crawled, Jim Musick in the lead. As agreed, one took the one on the right t'other on the left. By touch , Jim located his bear and set the muzzle of his gun in place. "You found his yer?" he asked in a low voice.
"Yeah," the other hunter answered. "A'right, set yer muzzle."
She's sot," came the reply.
"Fire! " and Musick squeezed off a shot that in the confines of the cave was deafening, but not so much that he failed to realize that no second shot had sounded.
All in one instant of time, he saw his "Chickened out" (author's expression) companion darken the hole as he scrambled for the outside and sensed the coming to life of the bear whose winter's sleep was not so profound as to ignore what had taken place.
James Musick was a large man, tall and powerful of muscle.
The bear seized him just as he entered the slit. Musick told: "I'd
reach jist as fer as I could and dig my fingers in an' pull myself.
I felt 'im strip off my huntin' britches an' knowed my laigs was bein' tore
pieces, but I kep' a-reachin' an' a-pullin'. The crack was so nar' he never could get a hug around my laigs nor reach me with his teeth to do no good. Ever' time I'd pull, I'd feel his claws grit bone. When I busted out into the daylight, I'd broke 'is holt. The first thing my
eyes lit on was the gun that feller had drapped when he left the hole.
I grabbed it an' got off a shot before that bear got use' to the light
in his eyes. That was the last I remembered fer awhile."
Meanwhile the other hunter returned to the settlement and told the
people that a bear had killed Jim Musick. A party went out and found the mangled man and the dead bear . Not knowing the full story, they were astonished when Jim begged for a loaded gun to take a whack at the fellow he had been hunting with.
He urged the men to go into the cave and get the second bear and his gun,
but the sight of Jim's wounds was deterent enough and no one would venture
in. The dead bear and the wounded man were dealt with according to the
practices of the time- the bear was skinned and Jim
carried back to his own cabin for Mariah to doctor as well as she knew how.
Eventually, soaked with the grease of the bear and "wropped" with strips of the bearskin, Jim's legs responded to Mariah's treatment. Jim got able to stir about, still swearing vengeance against the man who had deserted him.
Spring came. "With the help of one of his sons, Jim made his
way back to the cave, crawled in, and retrieved his rifle. The carcass
of the bear was too far gone to salvage. Jim said that the months in
the cave had ruined the rifle and that he traded it off, but since wished
As for his threat against the other fellow, Musick said: "When I seed the spring come ag'in an' ever'thing a-gittin' green an' new after that awful winter, an' I could crawl outside an' git me a place in the sun an' watch them big white-billed peckerwoods a-maulin' on the dead trees
out in the clearin', an' hear squirrels ever' now an' then 'Whee' over in the cove, then I was so glad jist to be alive that I said, 'God hates a coward! An' if God hates 'im, why ort I to' - but - I'd druther never lay eyes on 'im!
Another friend said, "You've learnt yer lesson, ain't ye, Jim? Ye'll never go in after another denned-up bear, will ye?"
Musick glowered from under shaggy eyebrows, "Yes, by darn', I will! But never with no other dam' feller to foul me up, I won't!"
James Musick settled in the head of Greasy Creek in Johnson County, at one time owning the whole area of the Bear Branch besides other land.
By the year 1900, all of the offspring of James and Mariah Shell Musick had moved to other areas with the exception of their sons Newton, and Milton, who evidently fell heir to the holdings of their father.
Supposedly some of the Musick
descendants were allied with the
Hatfield and McCoys.
1880 Census of Johnson County, KY
Name Age Occupation Birthplace
James Musick 73 Farmer N.C.
Polly Waller 50
Green Waller grand dau. KY
The Musicks and many other KY pioneers may have married into a fascinating group of people called Melungeons. There are health issues involved with descent from these fascinating people. So please see my Melungeon Health Education and Support Network site at: http://www.melungeonhealth.org Ask me what a Melungeon is! :-) Free info via e-mail including a common surname list.
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