First of all I want to say that I am a reader of Wayne County News and have been for some time. I will tell you a little of my life and a few places I have been, but I don't know that you could consider me as a citizen of Wayne county, but I will tell you how I came to be there and about how long I stayed.
First of all I was born in Johnson county, Kentucky, September 4, 1883, on the waters of Toms Creek, five miles north of Paintsville, Kentucky, county seat of Johnson county and my present home. I was reared by an good old-fashioned farmer and a hard working man who always taught us to be good boys. My father raised nine boys. There names are as follows: Fred C., Alonzo F., Verner, Ernest, Coon, Clyde, Frew S., Burns C., and Byran. They all lived to be grown men except Coon. My mother died when I was about six or seven years old. This left my Father in bad shape and with all of us boys on his hands he was not able to hire some woman to keep house, so he made girls out of us boys.
The boys were all at home when mother died, but after mother's death the older boys began to scatter off. Each boy took his turn at cooking. Bye (sic) and bye, it came my turn to cook and keep house, and I want to say it has come in pretty handy sometimes since I have been married to know how to cook and keep house. I have washed dishes when I was small. I had to stand in a chair to be tall enough to reach the table and of course this kind of life did not appeal to boys much so, bye and bye, the boys began to leave. Two of my older brothers, Verner and Ernest, wandered off into Wayne county, West Virginia. Verner stayed with Lucian Ferguson and worked on a farm. Ernest stayed with Dr. G. R. Burgess, who at that time lived just above Lucian's on the left fork of Twelve Pole about a mile above Wayne. They stayed there several years and would come home often, and I would hear them talk how they liked to stay out there and how good they were to them. It created a desire in me to want to go and see the place.
The time passed on till I was about fifteen. I went to Catlettsburg to spend the Fourth of July. I fell into bad company, got drunk and was locked up for being drunk. To my shame I am sorry to tell you, but I am trying to tell you how I came to get into Wayne county. After I got out of jail next day, I was ashamed to go back home, and I knew my father would hear about it, so I decided to go up to Thacker, W. Va., and work there in the mines. I worked there a while and the company was so much rougher than what I was used to that I did not like it, so I thought of the good place Ernest had told me about, and I decided to go down and see Wayne county. I crawled on a freight train on Saturday night and Sunday morning I landed in Wayne all black and dirty so I got off at the end of the Spunky bridge and went to the store at the end of the bridge and got a cake of Grand Pa's soap, went down to the creek and took a good wash. . . .
[I] came up the bank and inquired about Dr. G. R. Burgess. Some one was kind enough to tell me where he lived and told me that Basil and all the girls were over in town. I waited at the bridge until they came along. I had seen Basil before. He had been home with Ernest on a visit. But this was the first time that I had ever seen Charlie, oldest daughter of Dr. Burgess. She was in a buggy with John Meek, who afterwards became her husband. I got in the buggy with Basil and went home with him. Next morning, Dr. Burgess gave me a job of feeding the cattle and horses. Dr. always kept several head of horses, and among them was one he called Black Beauty and a beauty she was too.
I stayed about three years with them and never was treated nicer by anyone in my life than I was by Dr. Burgess' family. It always seemed to be that Mrs. Burgess treated me just like she did her own son, Basil. It may have been because she knew I had no mother, but she was a mother to me and Dr., a father. When the East Lynn railroad started, I [was] getting about 50 cents a day so I began working on the bridge force at $1.00 a day and still boarded with Dr. Burgess. I helped build all the bridges on the East Lynn road.
I left Wayne about 1902 and came home. About that time, the C. & O. R. R. had started the work to extend the road from White House to Elkhorn City, Kentucky. I worked at that one year. On November 16, 1904, I joined the army at Huntington and was sent to Fort Slocum, N. Y., [where I] was assigned to the 80th Co., Coast Artly, Fort Schuyler, N. Y. I stayed there two years and five months. March 1907 I was transferred to Key West, Florida, where I served seven months and was discharged. I sent back to New York City and got a job from the Interbourgh Rapid Transit Co., on a subway train as a guard. I worked there two years and decided to go back home. Two of my younger brothers had married and [were] living at the old home. I dug coal that winter for pocket change.
A revival meeting was in progress on the creek where I lived. That man of God preached with such power that it reached my heart, and I was truly saved from all my sins. That was January 10, 1910. I was changed right about, and I began to settle down. I started to work March 1910 for Webb & Preston Department Store in Paintsville for $30.00 a month. I worked three years for this firm. During this time, I was married to Ollie Webb and shortly after this I started business for myself.
I had a general store for about two years, then Ed Vanhoose, my cousin, and myself organized the Vanhoose Wholesale Grocery, Co. at Paintsville. We worked at this three years then my brother and I went into the lumber business. I have in the F. S. Vanhoose Lumber Co. over $27,000 and am manager and president of the company. I also own as good a house and lot as there is in Paintsville.
I want to give God the praise for what I have done, for I have made this all since I gave my heart to Him. I was ordained to preach in the Freewill Baptist church about three years ago. I am still in the fight against sin in every form.
I was married April 18, 1911, and we have had three children: Stewart, who died when he was two years old; Helen Elizabeth, who is now 10; and Howard is 7.
With all good wishes to you everyone.
FREW S. VANHOOSE
I am down here on the Mexican border serving a 3 year term with the United States Cavalry. I have eight more months to serve before I will return to Wayne county. The Cavalry sure is a fine place for a young man. It is very interesting to ride a horse over the Texas ranges and see the different kinds of scenery.
I am a reader of Wayne County News and find it very helpful while being away from all my relatives.
As you asked for a letter from all former Wayne county folks, I will try and give you a few sketches of my past. It has been eight years since I left Wayne county, and I have rambled a good bit during this time. I settled in Russell, Kentucky, in 1917 and took a job with the C. & O. railroad as a brakeman, and a little later I went to the U. S. army. I didn't stay long on this side until I sailed for England and from there to France. I was over there until July 1919, when I came back to the U. S. and was discharged from the army.
I visited my home folks in Wayne county and had just been home nine days when my mother died. I came back to Russell and took up my position with the C. & O. railroad. January 25, 1921, I was promoted to conductor. About one year later I married a Wayne county girl.
This is a good town to live in, lots of employment. It isn't a very large town, but it is a busy place. The C. & O. railroad has the largest train yards here of any one road in the U. S. A. Their payroll every two weeks amounts to one-half million dollars. Property is very high here.
I own my own home and have prospered ever since I have been here. I have one three-year-old daughter. I love to visit the Wayne county people and find some of the best people there that I have ever found anywhere. I attended the Wayne county fair and met lots of friends and relatives. I still own a farm in Wayne county but don't have any idea of every coming back there to live. I always think of my old home county and will always give it the praise of a good place. I would like to hear more of the Wayne county folks.
Transcription by June White
Wayne County News