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Bill Thayer

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Judge John Abbott

This webpage reproduces a section of
The History of Jenkins, Kentucky

published by The Jenkins Area Jaycees
Jenkins, Kentucky 1973

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Carl Fitzpatrick
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

G‑26 Interview with Ransom Jordan

Mr. Jordan, you came to Jenkins in 1913 with your father?

Yes, they called him "Doc." D. J. was his name. He was with the railroad people. He stayed here five years until 1918. We are originally from Lawrence County (Louisa). Then we came back in 1923 and went to work with the Mayo Recreational Building.

A. W. Jordan was the manager of all the recreational building. I started work as a clerk. The building was in fine shape. People would come here from Lexington and say what a fine recreational building it was. We had nice hotel rooms. Downstairs we had a pool room and bowling alley. They also had about 15 showers with stalls for the miners. They didn't have showers around the mines. They charged the miners 25¢ and gave them towels.

In the bowling alley, how many lanes did you have?

Four — the building was built in 1913. It had four floors, counting the basement. In the lobby upstairs was the fountain.º Then in '27, we moved the drugstore in there. Dr. Vaughn had his dentist office upstairs, the public library was upstairs, and we had a printing office in the basement. The Jenkins Recorder was upstairs at one time on the second floor. Belt was the man who run it. He went in when the building was built. He did all the printing for the theaters. We had five theaters — Jenkins, East Jenkins, Burdine, Dunham and McRoberts. After Belt left, he leased it out to Holstene. He ran it for several years.

You were talking about Dr. Vaughn.

Yes, he came here in 1913 and didn't leave until up in the 1950's. The police court was in the back of the building after the bowling alley went out. They had two fires there, the first fire burnt out the old theater and then later on, the other part burned. They also had barber shops.

Do you remember any of the barbers?

Yes, B. H. Crase, Frank Haynes, S. O. Polly, Honeycutt. They worked for the company, but they worked on commission.

You were a company employee?

Yes, we were all company employees. We had about 4000 people working here. The rooms at the recreational building, the better rooms, were $2. Some of the rooms on the third floor rented for $25 a month, about $1.25 per day. There was only one room that had a private bath, and that was my room.

G‑27 When you came here in 1913, how were the streets?

We had board sidewalks and a big mudhole right in the middle of the street. When we came back in 1923, they had the roads.

Was the recreational building a hangout?

Yes, back in those days, I knew everyone by their first names and everyone would come in and buy their newspaper. We kept them all. The movies we had were silent. We had a woman playing the piano along with the film. We had Lowell Thomas here one time. We put his broadcast on there in the theater. He was here in the early 30's.

During the depression, how was it here?

It wasn't nearly as tough here as other places. In 1931, I went to California and it was really bad. The people here never did have any soup lines because the company would give them script. I think maybe you could get $1 a day even if they didn't work. They put in the power plant in 1911. They had to have that, and they supplied the houses. They also supplied Wayland, Wheelwright, and Fleming and those places. I guess it was up in the thirties before the power company actually took over, and they done away with the power plant. The power plant also supplied heat for the business places.

What about boxing?

Yes, there was some well-known men came here to box. One thing I was interested in is baseball. We had Class D; before that we had semi‑pro. I think you had better baseball in Class D.​a People came in here and played ball for entertainment and it gave them a job and the company took care of them on the payroll. We had teams at Burdine, Dunham, McRoberts and Jenkins.

Do you remember some of the good players?

Montie Weaver,​b I thought he was outstanding. He went to Washington; John Brooder went to Chicago and there was Jim Mooney. Bob Bowman went to St. Louis and was sold for $75,000 from Chicago to St. Louis. Ray Russell now, he was a ball player. Yes, actually he was a professional ball player when he came here. He could have been in the big leagues if he would have went. Ray was outstanding and Sam Hancock was outstanding. Sam played outfield most of the time, and Ray was outfielder. We had as many as 3000 people come to some games. People used to sit on the hill and watch. They had baseball fields at Burdine, Dunham and McRoberts. The field at Burdine was there about the Ashland Station and at Dunham it was up there around Bad John Wright's, and at McRoberts, it was where it is now. Semi‑pro started in 1943, baseball started in the 20's, up until Class D. I was manager there for awhile. Class D lasted G‑28about four years.

Who were some of the good players?

Jack Hall, he was from Prestonburg, he was a good player, and so was Grit Mays.​c

When you organized, did you sell stock?

Yes, we had about $7,000 worth of stock. We put the lights in there in 1947. Lee Peterson was a good player.​d He was with the Orioles at one time. He just didn't want to stay away. He wanted to come back to the woods. Baseball sort of faded out because of TV and other things to do.

I think you've been involved in politics, haven't you? Did you ever serve on the school board?

Yes, for four years during the war.

Now about Kiwanis — when did it start and what do you think is the best thing Kiwanis has done?

It started in 1935. I think when we put in that swimming pool was the best thing. I believe that was in 1947 or '48.

Now your business — at one time what was here?

The old Nash garage owned by Burpo and Fred Rutherford and Shorty Smith. They started in 1922. I didn't come in business until 1935. They went out and H. S. Short came in here with the A Model Ford. He sold Chevrolets here in 1929 and he went broke in '32 during the depression and moved out. They used it for a dance hall and a barber shop. Billy Evelyn came here in 1934 and sold cars for 8 or 10 months, and he moved out and it was empty. I decided I would go into the car business.

Did you start with Dodge?

Yes, the first model I got was a 1936 model.

Evidently you've done well, you have built on to your building and remodeled.

Well, you can do good at anything if you work hard enough — 24 hours a day.

Do you work here now?

No, it's incorporated and Bill Jordan has it. I turned it all over to him. The first car I remember here was a 1918 Dodge; old man Christopher had it.

G‑29 East Jenkins was never owned by the company, was it?

Right, it was like Neon at one time — had a lot of businesses. Dawahare's was there at one time and Hazens, Holstene's.

What were the people's reactions when the company started selling?

I think most of them were pretty well satisfied because they bought their homes pretty reasonable. Sam Cassidy was in charge when they started selling and George Tarlton and then Dave. George Tarlton is retired; he is living in Pennsylvania.

What was the population of Jenkins in the 20's?

Oh, I would say of Jenkins alone, about 6 or 7,000.

Thayer's Notes:

a Opinions will differ! See Oakie Greer's.

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b The printed text has "Bonnie Weaver", but this is very likely just the interviewer hearing wrong. Monte Weaver played in the major leagues in the 1930s: he is the subject of an excellent biographical sketch at The Baseball Biography Project.

Of the other players Mr. Jordan names, I've been unable to identify John Brooder; Jim Irving Mooney (1906‑1979) and Robert James Bowman (1910‑1972) are represented online, but only by very summary information; and Ray Russell and Sam Hancock appear to have played only in local baseball.

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c I've been unable so far to track down either player.

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d Lee Peterson, according to an informative article by Kim Underwood in the July 4, 2004 issue of the Winston-Salem Journal that was once online but now is not, rose to become a star pitcher for the Winston-Salem Cardinals, a minor-league team associated with the St. Louis Cardinals, and once struck out Joe DiMaggio when both men were in the service. He does not ever seem to have played for the Orioles. Those interested in his career may e‑mail me for the full article.

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Page updated: 27 Oct 17