The following article is from the May 2, 1974, issue of The Mountain Eagle newspaper (page 3, columns 1-3):
By FRANK MAJORITY
The Mountain Eagle
WHITESBURG, LETCHER COUNTY, KENTUCKY.THURSDAY, MAY 2, 1974
The biggest log ever cut in Letcher County?
This Log Cut on Linefork Creek Many Years Ago Has Become a Legend in Letcher County.
Mr. Drew Frazier was a logger and also a farmer and lived on Kingdom Come Creek here in our county. He was cutting timber on Linefork Creek where he found this large tree. And he knew right away that he didn't have the hardware or the team to move this tree with.
At this time we had no railroad in our county and very few wagon roads to talk about. Most of our folks traveled on mules and horses, or walked, for it was bone jarring on some of these creek bed roads in that day to ride a wagon.
For some reason the buyer of this big log didn't want it floated down the Kentucky River, so Mr. Frazier had to make other plans.
There was a Mr. Sam Wright up river from Whitesburg, that did contracting work like logging, etc. He was also a big dealer in livestock. He had many head of oxen that he worked with, and he was master blacksmith. In later years he used his oxen in the building of the mines at Jenkins.
Well, Mr. Frazier went to see him and the made a deal. Mr. Wright would make a specia1 wagon for the log for $100.00 But I was told that it did not include the haul charge into the state of Virginia. That, I could not find out, nor what he got for the log. But I did hear that after the company received the log, they sent some men back for the stump of their walnut log and it brought a price of $300.00. I was told it was what we call curly-walnut. There is a big demand for this type of wood.
I was told the log was 16 feet long and 5 or 6 feet through the center before they shaped it up to fit the wagon in this picture you can see six yokes of oxen or 12 heads, which were wearing steel oxen shoes. Mr. Wright was wagon master and had a crew of five men. This picture was made in Wise, Va. date not known or the photographer not known.
Mr. Wright brought this log up the head of Linefork Creek then down Kings Creek to the head of Big Cowan Creek then on down Big Cowan Creek then up river to Whitesburg, then on up to the head of Kentucky River, to Pound Mountain, Virginia then to Wise, Virginia and from there to Norton, Virginia to the railroad station. In all this trip, it must of been around 50 miles give, or take some.
The wagon crew said they did run into some trouble when they were coming up near the head of Linefork Creek, which is called Dry Fork of Linefork Creek. They came to a cliff and couldn't get the wagon over it, so they just made camp there and for two days - worked piling logs, rock, dirt and whatever the could find to make a fill with. So as to get over it, but they made it.
Word had got out in and around Whitesburg about their big log and its special wagon. People would gather at different points to see their walnut log and wagon and this large team.
In the picture leaning on the wagon wheel is Mr. Sam Wright the wagon master, he was also the brother to Bad John Wright. To the right of Mr. Wright is Mr. Henry Fields of Whitesburg and I would like to say a few words about Mr. Fields. In his youth, he served with the U. S. Marines in China, around the Great Wall of China. He brought back an album of pictures of the Great Wall and if I remember right, it was in bad shape in places. When those pictures were made back in the 18 hundreds it was in top shape.
After Henry came back from China and was living in Whitesburg, a logging firm from some city came to Whitesburg and was recruiting men from Letcher County to go to Africa to log in that country.
Well Henry had cooked in the U. S. Marines and he knew how to work oxen also, so he made tham a good man. I sure did like to hear him tell the stories about Africa, when I was a little boy, about those big snakes he would tell about. He said where they crossed the road it looked like where someone had dragged a log, for they were so big and heavy that they left a good sign in the soft ground. This story he told I didn't like though.
He said one day just before dark, a white man and his young son, six or eight years old, came into their camp and wanted to spend the night. He didn't say where they came from or where they were going. They were just glad to see some white people and get a bit of news, for they were far out in the forest.
Well later in the night, the chief of the tribe that furnished the labor part of the logging crew sent one of his men to the white camp, with word that he wanted the little boy.
Then they asked him why he wanted the little boy. He said, this man told them that the chief wanted to eat him. Why him, they asked? The chief wanted him because he was young and tender, the man said. They told the man to tell the chief they would see what they could do. After he had left they awoke the father and son and told the father all about it, and they must leave the camp at once. They left and the little boy was saved. Henry told this story many times here in Whitesburg for mountain folk didn't believe this could happen.
The following article is from the November 10, 1955, issue of The Mountain Eagle newspaper (page 16, columns 2 & 3):
WRITES TO THE EAGLE
Oct. 30, 1955
To The Mountain Eagle,
As it has been requested of me to write a letter to the Mountain Eagle in regard to my life as to how and where I was born and raised. I was born on Kingdom Come, June 17, 1874. I went to school till I was 16 years old. Then my father died and left me and my brother, then I bought me a team and went to work for myself and my mother, and when I was 22 years old I got married and my wife stayed with my mother at the old home where I was born, and where I still live. And my first job I had was on Craft's Colly and I boarded at Roy Combs, hauled logs for my brother, J. H. Frazier, then I boarded with Byrd Franklin and Jack Franklin, then with Monroe Stallard on the head of Colly Creek. Then I built a splash dam and when they would come a tide in the creek we would use the dam and float the logs into the Kentucky River and they had a dam at Jackson, Ky., and there they would saw them into lumber. I worked all over the County, on most every creek in the county and I knew about every person in the county, such men as black Shade Combs, Bates Collins, all of the old set of people I knew and stayed with uncle Wesley Combs on Smoot Creek where the Orphans Home is now. I have worked all over the county, have hauled logs from the head of Linefork to Norton, Va., with 6 pair of oxens, took one trip I made I hauled back ten thousand lbs. of the material that is in the courthouse in Whitesburg now. I got one dollar a hundred lbs. for hauling that, so there is plenty more things that I have done in the way of work. I have the picture of the walnut logs that I hauled to Norton, Va, 1387 ft. in one log, bad Sam Wright made the wagon that the logs were hauled on to Norton, Va.
Well, dear editor of The Eagle, I think I was the second one that signed for the paper to Mr. N. M. Webb, of Whitesburg, Ky. So this may not appeal to you, but I can remember when there were just a few houses in Whitesburg, Mr. Henderson Nickles, Bob Brashears, Jim Sarver, Col. Salyers and a few others, John A. Craft, Jim Fitzpatrick, Jim Morris, but I can't remember them all. I hope this will help you and that you will not be disappointed too bad. So bye, with love to all,
P.S.---Say Dr. J. D. Fitzpatrick and Dr. J. M. Bentley and I were school boys together.
Say, just a little more as to school, I did the plowing and made the road at the back of the Old Buss Station at Jenkins, Ky. I hauled the stone that is under all of those large buildings there and I pulled the shrubbage out of where the Lake is at Jenkins and did a lot of work there. A man by the name of Smith was Supt. I also helped haul some of those large boilers that were in the power house, Henry Wright helped me haul them with the company teams, six of them big horses, and I had four mules of my own. We hauled those large boilers from the Pound, Va.
Letcher County, KY, Genealogy