Daniel Boone Childers

1873 - 1956

 

 

Daniel Boone Childers was born in Wolfe County, Kentucky, on Holly Creek, a tributary of the Kentucky River, on the 11th day of July, 1873.

 

In the spring of 1876 my father moved to Breathitt County, and I was reared on a farm near the Kentucky River.  My father rented a farm from an old farmer by the name of Preston Sherfield.  We lived on that farm only 2 years and after that my father purchased a boundary of land down  in the lower edge of Breathitt County, Kentucky, on the Plumforks of Middle Creek, a tributary of the Kentucky River, and in 1878 we moved to the place.  It wasnít a farm.  We moved right in the woods, a virgin forest of land, and a boundary of 3300 acres of white ash.  There wasnít hardly a stick amiss.  A cousin of my father, by the name of William Maloney had went in there and built a small log cabin some years before and had cleared off around the house about one acre of land.  After that he moved out of that section of the county to a more inhabited section of the county and the second growth of timber had grown clear above the top of the house.

 

At that time there was 9 in our family, father and mother, and 7 of us children, 5 boys and 2 girls.  I had 2 brothers and 1 sister older than I was and we went to work in earnest to clear off land and make a farm.  Father had to work away from home most of the time at anything he could get to do to get something for us to live on, and Mother and us children had to clear the land and make the farm.

 

Every foot of land almost was covered with valuable timber and at that time we had no market for our timber.  The closest market we had was 250 miles down the Kentucky River to Frankfort, the capitol of the state.  We would have to cut, haul and raft the logs in rafts of about 75 logs to the raft, and then we would lash 2 rafts together and make a double raft out of it.  After we got our timber to market, we would only get 50 cents for a hundred feet which would only be about $5.00 per thousand feet.  If we would value our time from the time we began until we got the timber to market, we wouldnít make more than 5 or 10 cents per day, and it generally took about 5 men to man the oars to guide the raft down the river. 

 

After I got up about a grown man, Father cut, hauled and rafted and run to Frankfort, $750 worth of timber at 50 cents and $1.00 per hundred feet.  We got 50 cents for our oak and $1.00 for our poplar and he had to sell on 4 months time and he only collected $100 on the whole thing.  He sold to a speculator and he sold the timber to another party and skifted out and we never collected another cent.  The mill men at Frankfort only offered 50 cents straight for all of it and the $100 just about paid our way back home, and Father had to sell off enough of our stock to pay the men for their trips down the river.

 

I stayed at home and worked on the farm until I was 21 or 22 years old and got a job with the Twin Creek Lumber Company.  I drove a mule on a trainroad, hauling lumber and crossties out to the station on the L & N Railroad Company at Athol, Kentucky.  My wages per day was $1.00 and after I paid board out of it just left 62 1/2 cents per day.  I worked for that company about 2 years.  After that I got a job with another lumber company at the same kind of work, driving a mule on a train road.  I worked there about 4 years for that company.  They built 5 miles of train road out to the railroad station at Monica, and we would make two trips per day.  The trainroad was built altogether out of wood and the railroad would get in pretty bad shape at times and our train cars would wreck and run off the track, and we would have a terrible time getting them back on the track and sometimes we would be way after night getting back to camp.

 

I remember one time we were hauling long timbers for the railroad company. 30 ft. long and it required 2 cars to haul the timbers on, a car under each end and it was pulled with 2 mules, one in front of the other which was called a double team.  I, myself was driving one of the double teams and a fellow by the name of Keene Lancaster was driving a single team just in front of me.  We had quite a hill to go down about one fourth of a mile long and where the trainroad started off the hill, it went over a wood trestle and it was about 200 yards long from where it started at the top of the hill until it came to the lower end of the trestle. 

 

The trestle was 35 feet high in the highest part.  It was a gradual slant to the lower end of the trestle and as we were on our way to the station at Monica with six loaded cars of railroad timbers and as said before, there was one single car in front of me and four cars behind me and when we started down the hill, the car in front of me, I waited at the top of the hill for him to get to the lower end of the trestle before I started down the hill. 

 

It was late in the fall, about the middle of November, and it had fell quite a frost the night before and there was quite a bit of frost on the track, and we had brakes on the front and rear cars of their double cars and when I started down the hill I got a cousin of mine at the top of the hill to brake the rear car down the hill.  The fellow on the next car behind me was Derbenís double car load and when I started down before him I said to him, "Allen, you had better wait at the top of the hill until I get down, and I will come back and brake your rear car down the hill for you." 

 

But instead of waiting, he turned over the hill just behind me, and I saw he wasnít going to hold his cars with only one brake and I knew if I didnít get out of his way, he would run into me about the middle of the bridge, and I whipped my team up and let up on my brake, and before I got down the hill my mules was in a long lope.  As soon as I got to the lower end of the bridge, I jumped off my car and whipped my mules out of the track and as the hook that the stretchers was hooked to was turned sideways and the stretchers came loose from the cars and my mules just trotted out in the field. 

 

When Derben saw he couldnít hold his cars with only one brake, when he got to the other end of the bridge, he jumped off the cars and turned the cars loose on the mules.  When the cars got to the highest part of the bridge, it punched the mules off the bridge and they fell 35 feet to the ground.  It broke the wheel muleís back, and throwed the lead mule way up on the hillside and hurt it very bad.  It trotted out in the bottom and went to picking grass, but the other mule was never able to get up.  It had to be killed, and some of the mules didnít jerk the heavy loaded cars off the track and they came down and rammed into the rear end of my cars and the two heavy loaded cars rammed into the rear end of the cars ahead of my cars. 

 

The fellow that was driving the front car just had got off to open a gate when the cars hit his car and he didnít have time to get the gate open, and it rammed the car, mule and all through the gate, and then they started down a small hill and about 40 yards ahead there was another gate, and then it rammed the front cars and the old mule thru the other gate.  By that time myself and the driver of the car behind Derbenís car jumped on the cars and broke them down and got them stopped at the foot of the little hill. 

 

The company was notified and they sent some men to kill the wounded mule and take it off and bury it.  Then we coupled the 2 cars together and hitched 3 mules to the double cars and we hitched the mule that wasnít killed in front of my 2 mules and pulled them to the station and unloaded them, and drove back to camp and eat our dinner.  It was then about 2 oíclock in the afternoon.

 

We always made 2 trips a day, so we loaded our cars again and started back to the station.  By the time we got back to the camp it was around 10 oíclock in the night.  Derben, the driver of the car that the mule was killed, he did not go out next day as one of his mules was killed and the boss told him he would have to lay off for that day.  When they investigated about the accident they decided that Derben was at fault and the company fired him off the job.

 

He went off the next day and got drunk and come back to the camp and cut one of the awful lest shines you ever saw.  He walked back and forth through the company store and cursed and defied any of us to make a move.  Of course, we just sat still and never said a word to him and he was like a windstorm.  When he spent his barrel, he went to the boardinghouse and went to bed, and he left out before daybreak the next morning and I never saw him again after that.  He only lived about a year after that until he took the fever and died.  So that ended the chapter with him. 

 

After that timber job was worked out, I decided I would go north so I first went over in Indiana where I had an uncle and I stayed there from the 4th of July to the 8th of August, and worked on the farm for a man by the name of John Bonebrake, a mighty fine man.  He owned a section of as good a farmland as there was in the state.  My uncle was working for Mr. Bonebrake and he soon got me a job.  That was back in Grover Clevelandís administration and everybody that is living now knows that we had a hard time living through the hard times he brought on the people. 

 

That was back in 1894 - 1898 and after that William McKinley was elected by the Republican Party.  He saw the trouble that was bringing the hard times on the people.  Old Grover was allowing those other nations overseas to ship their products, which was manufactured by their foreign labor over in the old country.  They could manufacture it cheaper and ship it over here cheaper than we could in our factories at home, and that killed our business.  So Mr. McKinley asked Congress to put a tariff on all imported goods that was shipped to our country and that put an end to the foreign labor goods being shipped over to our country.  After that our manufacturers began manufacturing our own goods. 

 

I was in Wisconsin at that time.  The lumber companies began to start business in the lumber camps and wages began to advance.  I remember I was working on a farm for 75 cents a day, which was $19.50 a month and inside of a year we were getting $60.00 a month and board for working in the lumber camps.  After I got thru with the farmer, I got a job cutting cordwood that paid $1.00 per cord for what was called body maple and 75 cents for the small wood, the limbs of the tree.  I hired a man to help me for 50 cents a day and board.  After I got thru with the job of cutting cordwood, I got a job making crossties for a man by the name of Tom Roberts.

 

That job lasted me about a month and then I took a job cutting logs for Andrew Morn, a Norwegian merchant that had a grocery store in Bryant, a small town on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad.  After I got thru that job, I got a job cutting timber off 40 acres of land for Mort Davis, 3 miles farther up the railroad.  After I got thru with that job, I bought a 40 acre tract of land from Charley ____(?).  The railroad ran thru one corner of the land.  I cut and loaded 60 thousand feet of logs and 45 cords of wood and 500 Rock elm tie plugs off the place and sold the land for my money back.  I cleared $180 after counting all expenses.

 

Then I went up north and worked a summer logging camp where a windstorm had went thru and rooted up the pine timbers, a strip about one-half mile wide, clear through the state of Wisconsin and Michigan.  I was there until that fall and I came back down to Antigo and Bryant and got a job in a hardwood camp, and worked up to Christmas.  I decided I would go home for a month and spend Christmas with the folks down in Kentucky.  When I left Wisconsin I figured on going back, but I did not go back at all.  Father was building him a new house.  He was cutting logs and hauling them to a mill and having lumber sawed to build his house.  I helped him work until spring and then I got a job driving a mule on a train road for the same man I worked for before I went up north.  I worked there until the job was completed, then Father and I  took a job of logging for G. D. Hieronymus, and we began cutting logs and hauling them to the river to be rafted and run down the river to the market. 

 

That was in the fall of 1899, and on January 20, 1900, I got married to Maggie Spencer, a daughter of Brantley B. Spencer and Lydia Spencer.  We started out in the world to make a living for ourselves with practically nothing to start with.  We lived for the first month with my brother and his wife.  My brother had married a sister of my wife, and I rented a place down the creek about one-half mile below where my brother lived and we moved what few things we had to begin housekeeping on.  We hauled it on a sled with one mule.  We both started out in good faith to make a living for ourselves.  My wife went to work making quilts and her mother gave us a feather bed and 2 pillows and my mother gave us about the same thing, and my mother gave us a hen and some small chickens and we bought 14 hens from one of her cousins and that gave us a pretty good start of chickens.

 

Next summer after we married, we both joined the Christian Church and was baptized by immersion in the Kentucky River at the mouth of Rocklick Creek.  In our married life up until the year of 1921, there was born to our family 12 children:  6 boys and 6 girls and we reared them up to be grown men and women.  I farmed some and worked in the timber business until the timber was all about worked out close around to where we lived. 

 

Times was pretty hard and money pretty hard to get and I decided to come out to Kings Mills, Ohio, and look for a job working at the Peterís Cartridge Company, which was at Kings Mills. I got a job the first night I went to the employment office.  I got me a boarding place up at South Lebanon, 2 miles above Kings Mills.  I worked 12 hours, from 6 in the evening til 6 in the morning.  I worked there 7 weeks  and then I got a leave of absence to come back home and I sold my place there to Sam Gabbard for $1600.00 cash and I came back to South Lebanon and bought me a place, a 5 room house and 4 acres of land on the south side of the Little Miami River, between the river and the railroad.

 

We lived there 2 years and I worked at the cartridge factory until World War I was over and the government work was over.

 

Work was beginning to get pretty slack and we all had the flu except myself and Fred, my oldest boy.  My wife contracted a very bad cough and didnít look like she was going to get well and the doctor advised me to take her back to Kentucky.  I sold my place and we moved back to Oakdale, Kentucky.  I rented a farm from Larkin Stamper and lived there about 2 years, and then we moved down to Monica.  We lived on a farm there just 1 year and I bought a small farm over on the other side of the Middlefork River on the Long Shoal branch.  It was a pretty rough farm.  We lived there 4 years and I farmed some, and worked in a timber job up the river about 10 miles from where we lived.  I was working for the Bockhorn Coal and Lumber Company.  The company had bought a tract of timber land, 1,200 acres in the boundary.  I worked thru that job, and the next spring after I got through that job, I decided to sell my place and move back to Ohio. 

 

We rented a place in Avalon, a subdivision of   Middletown and just lived there 1 month and 20 days and I rented a farm out thru West Middletown about 3 miles from town.  That was in November and me and 2 of the boys, Bishop and Dock got a job helping William Fulton build a machine shop.  I worked there until time to start farming, and I and my wife and the smaller boys ran the farm.  The boys still worked on for Mr. Fulton until the shop was completed and then Bishop worked on for Mr. Fulton until he sold his shop to a Dayton company.  Dock got a job at the Raymond Bag Company and Hattie, our next oldest girl, got a job at the Wrenn Paper Company.  She was working there when she was taken with typhoid fever, and just lived about a month when she passed away on January 15, 1927. 

 

When we moved here from Kentucky, our oldest girl, Hazel, was in school at Berea College and when she came home, her and Georgia, our next older girl, got a job at the Wrenn Paper Mill where Hattie was working when she got sick.

 

We just lived on the farm 1 year and I bought the place where we live now.  We have lived here around 28 years and last December 22, 1953, my wife, Maggie, passed away after about a yearís illness.  That left just myself and one of the girls, Rosie and I here alone.  The loss of my dear companion leaves me a mighty old man.  It just seems like I can never live here without her.  She was such a dear, good wife and companion.  We were happily married January 20, 1900.  We had lived together 53 years, 2 months and 24 days.  We could always plan things together, never had no trouble thru those many years of happy married life together.  I donít feel like I have got anything to live for anymore, but when Death comes and takes our loved ones, it leaves us all so lonely and drear, it looks so hard to have to part forever, to never meet here on earth again, but the Good Lord knows best, the Lordís will be done, not ours.  The only hopes we have is to live a life so that we can meet her again in a better world than this, where there is no sickness, pain or death, and by the grace of God I intend to live that life the remainder of my days, this the 5th day of April, 1954.

 

 

 

D. B. Childers    R.R. 3    Middletown, Ohio.

 

 

Submitted by Betsy Benn    Jan 2003

A note from Betsy Benn

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