COLUMN: Ashes Creek a special community in Spencer County

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By Tom Watson

The decision to save the Ashes Creek School and Yates (or Meyers) House log cabin from destruction when Taylorsville Lake was being formed was truly significant.
“Ashes Creek” is indeed a creek, but it has always been considered a place like Briar Ridge, Possum Ridge or Hickory Ridge.
Joellen Tyler Johnston wrote an excellent series on the history of Ashes Creek in 1993.
Records of the Spencer County Board of Education list the boundaries of the Ashes Creek School District in 1930. Here’s what they say: (punctuation per original school board document):
“Boundary beginning at the mouth of Ashes Creek including James Hammock thence up Jack’s Creek including Thos. Goodwin, Phil Porter, W.D. Hardin and the Dan’l Marattay place to Ed Travis place including it; thence across to the mouth of Doe Run; thence down the creek to the road that heads by the Jas (James) Williams place including it; thence down the big branch to the river; thence down the river to the beginning including the Jon (Jonathan) Bennett place and the W.W. Kincheloe place.”
The records show that the Ashes Creek school was weather-boarded log, 22 by 36 feet. It had a seven-inch diameter stove pipe and the water was obtained from a cistern. Apparently there had been a well and it was converted into a cistern in 1930.
Among the teachers were: Miss Permelia Black in 1916 and 1917, who earned $42 a month for teaching 60 children; Miss Mabel Foreman, 1917-18, no salary listed; Miss Margaret Hobbs, 1918-19, $44 a month to teach 66 students; Miss Bessie Martin, 1919-20, $60 a month for teaching 66 children; Miss Ruby Ingram, 1920-21 and Miss Elizabeth Green, 1921-22. No salary or numbers of students were listed for the latter two.
Also, no information except years and names for the following:
Louisa Shouse, 1926-27; Richard Shouse, 1927-28; Harry McAllister, 1928-29; O.L. Hume, 1929-30 and 1930-31; Mary Ann Patton, 1931-32; Emma Louise Beauchamp, 1932-33; and O.L. Hume, 1933-34 and 1934-35.
Looking at the 1912-13 school year, here were some of the students (surnames are repeated with each listing because I like to do it that way):
Mr. and Mrs. Lester Shouse (couldn’t make out first name of the Mrs.) had four students at Ashes Creek school. They were: Lester Shouse, 13; John Shouse, 11; Mattie Shouse, 10; and Mamie Shouse, 7.
Jake and Nannie Hilbert also had four at Ashes Creek. They were: Jacob Hilbert, 17; Jessie Hilbert, 14; William Hilbert, 13; and Osie Hilbert, 9.
If Jeb and Marsha Truax said goodnight to their children like the actors did on the Waltons television program, it must have taken a while. They had six at the Ashes Creek school: James Truax, 18; Joseph Truax, 15; Susan Truax, 13; Lew Truax, 11; Myrtle Truax, 9; and Celia Truax, 6.
William and Emma (spelled Ema in the records) Hardin made breakfast for five before sending them off to the Ashes Creek school. They were: William Hardin, 16; Lelia Hardin, 14; Carl Hardin, 11; Eva Hardin, 9; and Otha Hardin, 6.
Ollie Bentley, who lived on the upper reaches of Ashes Creek, made wonderful things out of wood and I have a little chair he carved. Ollie had some unusual animal teeth he found near Ashes Creek. Buck Dotson found several of the same teeth along Ashes Creek and gave them to me. Ollie and Buck thought they were buffalo teeth. I took the samples to the University of Louisville and found out they weren’t buffalo teeth, but horse teeth from the Pleistocene era, unearthed by dozers preparing the area for the filling of Taylorsville Lake.
The Pleistocene was thousands of years ago and I’ve read that the wild horses were in this area from the time the glaciers retreated. There are some scientists who support a theory that a disease, perhaps such as hoof and mouth, wiped them out in this part of the continent.
Those teeth could have been left at Ashes Creek before the progenitors of man appeared, according to charts in geology books. Many Christians don’t believe there were progenitors of man and that Adam and Eve were created by God and not nearly so long ago.
Nevertheless, the teeth are the oldest known artifacts of a formerly living creature yet found in Spencer County (except fossils).
Remember: I’d really like to hear from you on any historical subject dealing with Spencer or adjacent counties. You may write to: Tom Watson, 5225 Little Union Road, 40071; email twscribe@yahoo.com. Or, you may call (502) 252-9991.