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S0017 Uncle Boomer visits Kentucky
by Jim Carothers
Uncle Boomer Visits Kentucky Jim C. Some of you may have read my story about my adventures as a young kid with the King Cobra snake at the fresh water spring near our Kentucky home site. You will remember that I am a pretty old man now; I always like to tell folks my birthday is 08-08-08 !! Yep I was born on the 8th day of the 8th month of 1908. I've seen a lot in my time. Some of it good and some of it not too good either.
My great-great-granddaughter, Maggie, is helping me to get this story of Uncle Boomer's visit to Kentucky typed up here. Maggie is 8 and really knows this machine. I'm helping with the big words. Boomer is Papa's oldest brother; everyone calls him "Boomer" because he's been living in the Oklahoma Territory for a long time. We've always called it "The Territory" because it only became a state in 1907 -- the year before I was born.
Uncle Boomer made both of the Oklahoma Territory land runs. He made the run in 1889 and the run in 1893. Times was not easy then even if the land was free.
I will never forget his telling how hard the 1893 run was; if a person even got a claim filed, it was a miracle. I remember Uncle telling me the 1893 run was really late in the year "September" and things had been really dry for several years before that. There had been many prairie fires too. Some had been set on purpose by the Army to run out the Sooners. There was no time to plant a crop, very little water, and just about no feed for the stock.
We think this is Uncle Boomer and a helper the day of the land run in 1889
When he made the 1889 run, Uncle Boomer settled near what is now Guthrie, Oklahoma. He set up his blacksmith shop outside a tent the first day he was there. If this computer thing works right, Maggie is going to put a photo in here somewhere.
Uncle Boomer made the 1893 run up to Perry to open up another blacksmith shop. He made a lot of well drilling tools as well as all the regular work done in a blacksmith shop. Somewhere here we've still got what he called a bridge anvil that he used for sharpening the well drilling bits.
Like most old men telling stories, I have a hard time sticking to a straight line from the start to the ending. I was going to tell you about Uncle Boomer's visiting us at the Kentucky home place when I was about 17 years old.
On one of his visits, Uncle Boomer came to see the family toward the end of 1925. He had moved the Guthrie blacksmith shop or most of it to Mehan, in The Territory in July of that year to take advantage of the great oil field boom near there. The Perry shop was doing well; he and his men were always busy.
Boomer traveled by train all the way to Lexington, Kentucky and then on to Campton. Papa drove the mules and our wagon over to Campton to get him. Our place was close to Hazel Green in Wolf County. I think my Aunt stayed in Mehan; I don't remember her being along on this trip.
Uncle Boomer was a wealthy man for our part of Kentucky and even though he was a blacksmith he dressed in expensive clothes when he was not in the shop. I particularly remember his very large gold watch, a Hamilton Railway Special Number 992B. It was a lever set watch; you had to un-screw the crystal off the front and pull out a small lever to set the time (which was a rare event). He worn it like most men of the time on a chain tied to his vest. Dang; that reminds me about Uncle Boomer and the Preacher, but I've got to finish this story first.
Uncle had been at our Kentucky home place for about a week, as I recall, when this event took place. I was at the kitchen table having breakfast with my brother early one morning when Boomer came in the back door shouting for Papa to "come quick". It seems that some how during his morning trip to the outhouse and as he put it "doing my morning constitutional" Uncle Boomer had dropped that prized gold watch down one of the outhouse holes. He was all in a thither to get Papa, me, and my brother to help him move the outhouse so he fish out that watch.
With a big grin on his face, Papa pointed out the kitchen window to Momma's well-house and told him; "Boomer don't worry none about fetching out that gold watch, it'll show up in Mother's water well there in about 3 days!"
Papa, my brother, Uncle Boomer, and me were all laughing so hard, we didn't even see Momma coming at us with the skillet until it was too late. Even though he had a sizable knot on his head, Papa hitched up the mules and helped us move the outhouse and fish out Boomer's watch. I've got that watch in my stuff to this day.