"Cap" Dawson’s Blacksmith Shop

In this entry, Mr. Burl writes about the blacksmith shops that were in Owingsville and specifically mentions “Cap” Dawson.  In his book, The History of Bath County, John Adair Richards also mentions Cap Dawson.

From the journals:

Have you ever watched a blacksmith prepare a shoe for shoeing a horse?  All of our Bath County towns had these shops.  A typical blacksmith had an anvil, a forge and bellow, hammers, cutters, barrel of water, and nails.  The “Smithy’s” shop often was crude with a dirt floor.

Before the automobile took its toll on the blacksmith shops in the late twenties, there were three shops in Owingsville.  Do you recall the name of “Cap” Dawson, Wes Harris, and Jim Reed?  “Cap” was the smith for a shop located where Western Auto* now operates.  Later,  “Cap” operated a shop where the E.L. and A.T. Byron building now stands on the corner of Henry and Oberlein Streets (not “Oberline” as is currently on the sign).

Young boys often frequented these shops as spectators enjoying the works of the blacksmiths.  Often there was excitement when an unruly horse acted up. Blacksmiths would on occasion accept other jobs such as repairing hinges, repairing metal parts of farm wagons, etc. 

*Western Auto was located where Family Discount Drugs now stands. If you look on the map below, you’ll see a blacksmith shop in that location.

Old Sanborn Insurance map of Owingsville, 1891. This map shows a blacksmith shop on the corner of  Oberlin and Water, plus another one by the old jail on Slate Avenue (“Furnace” on the map).  Mr. Burl’s memory of the blacksmith shop would come much later as he wasn’t born until 1916.  Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Owingsville, Bath County, Kentucky. Sanborn Map Company, Jul, 1891. Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, .
sn86069620 1899-04-06 1 4 image 681x648 from 3507x3872 to 5523x5792
News of blacksmiths from an old copy of the Owingsville Outlook dated 1899. Vice on the left column, while John Craig is mentioned on the right. Owingsville outlook. (Owingsville, Ky.), 06 April 1899. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
sn86069620 1906-05-31 1 1 image 681x648 from 1347x5842 to 3528x7919
News clipping from 1906 that mentions the Wyoming blacksmith. Owingsville outlook. [volume] (Owingsville, Ky.), 31 May 1906. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

sn86069620 1903-03-05 1 1 image 681x648 from 401x4395 to 2549x6440
Owingsville outlook. [volume] (Owingsville, Ky.), 05 March 1903. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

sn86069620 1898-10-06 1 1 image 681x648 from 359x4129 to 2363x6038
1898 newspaper clipping mentioning the blacksmith at Preston. Owingsville outlook. [volume] (Owingsville, Ky.), 06 Oct. 1898. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Christmases Past

download (13)
From the journals of Burl Kincaid:
In the early 1900’s, most Christmas shopping was done locally and from Sears & Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogs.  There was very little traveling to neighboring towns or to Lexington because few people owned automobiles.  Even though gasoline was very cheap, there was very little money.  If a person owned a horse and buggy, they could make the trip to Mt. Sterling, but it was time consuming.
Unlike children today, most children back then were well pleased if they received one gift and perhaps some hard candy or nuts.
Most folks either used cedar or pine for their Christmas trees because there were no artificial ones. There were not any electric lights for trees then, so if people desired lights, they used candles. This was extremely dangerous but most used them cautiously. One of the most common decorations was popcorn on a string. Possibly, garlands and/or tinsel grew out of the use of strung popcorn.  Homemade wooden ornaments painted with various colors and paper colored with watercolors or some of other kind of coloring were also popular.
A large part of the Christmas season was the preparation of food. The making of candy, such as fudge, fondant, and cream candy, was not only a chore but also entertainment.  Baking cakes, usually fruit cakes, was a traditional custom for many families. The author knew a lady who always had a fruitcake, a jam cake, a spice marble cake, a white layer cake, and a hickory nut cake all baked prior to Christmas Day.



Fratman Hall

There used to be a place in Owingsville where actors would gather and put on grand performances.  Seriously.
From the journals:
“Chick” is in there selling nuts and bolts, paints and varnishes, and most anything you need in the hardware line but what does that have to do with Fratman Hall?  That’s right – the Smith and Son building was originally an entertainment emporium. 
Mr. Fratman was the owner and manager of the upstairs auditorium.  The rear of the downstairs, which is presently occupied by the Maze Auction Company, housed a circular staircase such as those seen in movies of yesteryear.  The actors and actresses dressed in the rooms at the foot of the stairs and walked up to the stage.
Vaudeville type shows, plays, and other forms of show biz were the order of the day.  Often, young boys would hang around the entrance after the show started, and if the house was not full and the boys were deserving, they were permitted to enter free of charge.
We have a sneaking suspicion that Mr. Burl was one of those boys who would hang around the entrance! 


A clipping from an old Owingsville Outlook (March 10, 1892). A show called “The World” is playing at Fratman Hall and it is mentioned twice in the left column and once in the right.

While Traveling to Lexington, Miss Jane Runs Out of Gas

Everybody seems to enjoy the sweet letters of Miss Jane Kincaid, so here is a new one. It was written on a Wednesday night in the late 40’s. She didn’t let running out of gas keep her from having a “very nice day” in the city!

Dear Burl, Jr.

We are just wondering if you reached Boone [Iowa] tonight. Do hope you are feeling better and ready “to go.”

We went to Lexington about 8 o’clock Tuesday morning. We ran out of gas about three miles from Winchester, and Mary B. thumbed a nice man, who sent us out some gas from Winchester. In the meantime, Truman Caudill from Mt. Sterling (do you know him?) pushed us a piece thinking there was a gas station but there wasn’t. 

We had a very nice day. Aunt Lyda came home with us. She is so frail. Hope the change will do her good.

We are all over with Aunt May. Don’t worry we keep our house locked and the coal oil stove turned off good ha!

Daddy hopes to work in the garden by noon tomorrow. Uncle Willie is going to help a half day.

How did you find the grass at Amana? And how is it where Uncle Henry has bought? Daddy thinks there is a good head here.

Miss Mamie Tipton is to be buried tomorrow. She had suffered so long with cancer of the throat. 

Now honey, take care of yourself. Let us know if you want anything. What about some vitamins? 

Lots of love, 




Pear Preserves

An old recipe from Don’s great-grandmother.

Pear Preserves (Mrs. Jacob Kincaid)

To every ten pounds of pears use 8 pounds of sugar.  Peel the pears then quarter then and then boil them in clear water until you can stick a broom straw through them. Have the syrup boiled until thick and drop pears in, then boil hard until the syrup is quite thick.

Yellow Tomato Preserves

An old recipe from Don’s great-grandmother.

Yellow Tomato Preserves (Mrs. Jacob Kincaid)

Use yellow tomatoes, scald and skin, then quarter and remove all seed sacks.
To every pound of tomatoes, use a pound of sugar.  Make thick syrup and drop tomatoes into it and boil to right consistency.  When most done, drop in a few drops of lemon juice or use slices of lemon.
The tomatoes should be well drained before putting into the sugar.

Kentucky Bourbon Balls

Kentucky Bourbon Balls

1 cup chopped pecans
5 tablespoons of bourbon
1/2 cup real butter
1 16 ounce package confectioner’s sugar
2 1/4 cups chocolate chips
3 tablespoons of Crisco shortening

1. Soak the nuts in the bourbon overnight in a glass bowl or jar (cover with a paper towel). I often soak them for several days, but overnight is fine if you need to go ahead and get it done.

2. Let the butter soften, then mix the sugar with it. Put the bourbon soaked nuts in and mix some more.

3. Line a tray with wax paper.  Form your candy mixture into 1″ balls, place the balls on the paper lined tray, then stick a toothpick in each one.  When full, transfer tray to freezer.  You can also put them in the refrigerator to chill.

4. When you’re ready to coat the bourbon balls, melt your chocolate chips and shortening in a glass bowl in the microwave.  Only set it for about twenty seconds at a time so you don’t scorch the chocolate.  As soon as it’s thin and fairly runny, you’re good to go.

5. Get your chilled balls and using the toothpick, swirl each ball in the melted chocolate, then place them back on the paper lined tray.  Remove the toothpick. This will leave a small hole, which you can cover by dabbing on more chocolate, or, if you are so inclined, you can press a pecan on top of it.  This takes practice (see helpful hints below) so try not to get frustrated if they aren’t turning out pretty at first – nobody is going to care how pretty they are anyway!

Helpful hints:

You may have to heat the chocolate up a few times during the process. Just pop it in the microwave for about 20 seconds and stir.

The toothpicks may be hard to remove from the candy balls at first. You can set them out at room temperature for a bit before dipping them if you want, but if you lose some of the hardness caused by the chilling, the balls might fall off the toothpick while you’re dipping. You can also take another toothpick and press gently on the top of the dipped ball to get the other toothpick out. Hope that makes sense!

To get pretty bottoms instead of big blobs of chocolate pools under your candy, take a toothpick as soon as you’ve dipped a ball, and gently swipe the bottom to get off the excess chocolate.

I like to keep bourbon balls in the refrigerator.

Brigadier General James Virgil Thompson

Reposting in honor of Memorial Day and for D-Day, which is right around the corner.

An American G.I. untangles communication wires that had become
wrapped around a cross in Pont l’Abbe during the fighting.
 June 6th of this year marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the day when allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy during WWII.  Bath County can be proud that many, many men from here answered the call of duty during the Great War, but one in particular stands out because his name can be found in the history books as one who helped lead the charge during the Normandy invasion.  That “one” is James Virgil Thompson, commander of the 358th infantry of the 90th Division of the VII Corps.  The 90th Division bore the nickname “Tough Ombres.”   Mr. Thompson’s brothers were Ed, Bascom, Banks, Earle, and Arnold(1).From the journals:

“Excuse me, may I have your autograph, Lt Lindbergh?” asked a person in the crowd.

“I am sorry, but I am not Lt. Lindbergh,” responded Lt. Thompson.

Incidents such as this occurred often.  Charles A. Lindbergh (an international hero) and Virgil Thompson of Owingsville were men of the same stature and their facial expressions were much the same when they smiled.  Lindbergh had just made his historic flight from Garden City, N.J. to an airfield near Paris, France in May of 1927. 

Close to that time, Thompson had graduated from West Point as a 2ndLieutenant.   Charles Lindbergh had been commissioned a 2ndLieutenant in 1925.  The two men were about the same age, looked alike, had that same military bearing, and of course wore army uniforms most of the time.

Lt. Thompson worked his way up through the ranks and it was apparent to those who knew him that he would achieve a high military rank someday.  Virgil served in the Philippine Islands, Panama, and other foreign posts as he climbed from rank to rank.  Finally, after this country was attacked by the Japanese, war was declared by the United States against the Axis powers.

Lt. Thompson became Colonel (Bird Colonel) Virgil Thompson and was a regimental commander.  He led his troops on the beaches of Normandy and was wounded by several machine gun slugs in the abdomen (2)  For many days, it was feared that Virgil would not make it.  Colonel Thompson did recover and returned to the ‘States’ where he was discharged.  He remained as a civilian for a short time, then went back on active duty.

Colonel Thompson was promoted to Brigadier General and went to Korea as an advisor to the South Korean military.  There is no doubt among his friends that Virgil would have risen to perhaps the rank of a Four Star General if he had not been badly wounded in France.

While at West Point, Virgil had the distinct honor of leading the “Army Mule” at an Army-Navy football game.  This was an honor bestowed upon only the top men in the academy. 

Bath Countians saw Virgil on the “Pathe” news at the Majestic Theatre.  Later, a movie starring Richard Dix entitled ‘The Quarterback’ was shown at the local theatre.  The shot of Cadet Thompson leading the mule was cut from the “Pathe” (3) news and inserted in the movie The Quarterback.

Brigadier General Virgil Thompson was a great Bath Countian and American who gave his best for his country.

Virgil seemed to enjoy visiting with people from all walks of life when he would return home on leave.  In the summer when Virgil was at home, he would chat with the boys in the Court House yard and seemed to enjoy it immensely.

(1) Captain Arnold Thompson, a recipient of both the Bronze and Silver Star prior to his death, was killed in Germany during WWII.   At one point he served under General Patton.

(2) In his book Hanging Sam:  A Biography of General Samuel T. Williams, Harold Myer includes this description of the fighting at Pont l’ Abbe, France:  “The 358thInfantry continued its attack on Pont l’ Abbe with the plan of eventually pushing on to occupy the high ground beyond the town. . . The 358th Infantry encountered severe resistance in its sector and was forced to engage the enemy in hedgerow to hedgerow combat.”

(3) Pathé news produced and distributed cinema newsreels.

If you want to read more about Virgil Thompson and his role in the Normandy Invasion, I would suggest searching for “Col. James V. Thompson.”  My good friend Harvey Thompson is the great nephew of Virgil Thompson, and I want to thank both him and his mother, Miss Ada June, for their help in providing me with more information about this great military hero from Bath County.


Members of the 358th infantry attempt to hide an
anti-tank gun in a stack of hay somewhere in the countryside of France.


Soldiers advancing towards Utah Beach during the invasion of Normandy.
A newspaper clipping announcing the death of Arnold Thompson
and the wounding of J.V. (Virgil) Thompson.
Charles Lindbergh, who does indeed bear
a resemblance to Virgil Thompson.

A Hometown Baseball Legend

The Owingsville Giants.  Nathan Redmond is third from the left in the back row. Photo courtesy of The Bath County Outlook.

My father-in-law, William Burl Kincaid, Jr., was a huge baseball fan. Well . . . he was more like a fanatic.  Some of my fondest memories are of going with him to watch his beloved St. Louis Cardinals play their exhibition games in Louisville and watching them play their championship games on TV in his living room. This was back in the 1980’s when they boasted such players as Willie McGee and the outstanding Ozzie Smith. There was one hometown player from the 1920’s that he thought ranked right up with these greats. ~ Ginger

From his journals:

Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Willie Mays. If you love baseball, you have heard of the exploits of these baseball players, but have you heard the name Nathan Redmond?  This man was legend around Owingsville. To begin with, he was endowed with a fine physique.  He stood about six-two and was well proportioned.

Nathan, in his younger days, was noted as a pitcher with a blazing, screaming fast ball. Today, baseball fans would say that he threw “heat.”   Many batters – good hitters – were caught with their bats on their shoulders.  Of some that did swing, it was too late because of the velocity of his pitch.

Nathan, like many pitchers today, unfortunately developed arm trouble and that blaze he had thrown was slowed down.  Being a great hitter (especially of the long ball), Nathan began to play first base and was a standout there.  

The author saw him play many times and on occasions remembers the left-handed batter hitting one that rolled across U.S. 60 from Kimbrough Park.*

Had Nathan Redmond lived now or in recent years, those who remember him feel that he would have starred as a big leaguer.  In his day, Nathan could not have been a National League or American League player because of his color.

Some of you remember the men who played with Nathan.  To name a few – Jim Reid, Jerry Lacy, Bob Foley, Dusty Stewart, Diner Gray, and Lawrence Berry. **

* Kimbrough Park was located in the vicinity where the Southern States lot is and across from Steve Butcher’s car lot on U.S. 60 East.

**I’m not completely sure the names Dusty and Diner are correct as those words are difficult to make out in the text. If they are wrong, please make a comment or drop me a note.

sn85038022 1921-07-18 1 1 image 681x648 from 973x3401 to 2807x5148
A news clipping from July 18, 1921 edition of  The Public Ledger (Maysville, Ky). Image courtesy of the University of Kentucky via The Library of Congress.

Doctor Byron’s House Gets Built and Other Tidbits from Miss Jane.

From Miss Jane on Friday morning, June 3rd, 1949:

Dearest Son,

     How are you this lovely morning? I got up early  and put sulphur on my roses and Aunt May’s. We have had lovely roses, in all colors. It is really dry in some places in the county, for the last rain seemed to be rather local. We haven’t had the showers yet that the weatherman has promised us.

     I am overseeing Aunt May’s house-cleaning.  She has Charlie D. and Mrs. Reynolds both today. Had Charlie D. yesterday and Mrs. Reynolds the day before – so hope to get it all done today but her room. The upstairs was a sight, together with the presses – but is clean now. Uncle Henry’s room is ready for kemtone [a paint].
     I haven’t been up town since I last wrote you, so don’t know any news.  Haven’t seen Ella.
     Tomorrow is Larue’s wedding day, so Blanche* is quite disturbed – says she isn’t going to cry.
     Burl [Sr.] says Dr. Bryon’s house is going up fast – I want to walk up there late this afternoon and probably up town.
     We are expecting Uncle Rube tomorrow – on his “flying trip.” Why didn’t you come along? ha!
      Burl and Banks [Thompson] went fishing yesterday afternoon, but no luck.
     Now Sugar, I will try to write more tomorrow.
     Aunt May is still improving.  We are just fine.  Daddy said at the supper-table that he felt better than he had for quite a while.

Lots of love, Mother

*We’re not sure who Larue is or why Blanche was disturbed.  It took us forever to figure out that Blanche was a nurse hired by the family to live in the house and care for Aunt May.  We found that from a census record.

An early ad for Kem-Tone paint.