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NYPL RESEARCH LIBRARIES
THE FIGG FAMILY
1719 to 1921
EDWARD CLARENCE FIGG
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EDWARD CLARENCE FIGG AT THE AGE OF 40
The Figg Family
1719 to 1921
EDWARD CLARENCE FICG
1 9 2 I , J
PRESS OF MOLL & COMPANY
120 South First Stract
THE >:EW YORK
ASTCi:, LENOX A'Sit
B iy4i L ,
The object of the present work is to present in a condensed
form a true sketch of the Fig-g- family, and, also, in addition to
the family history, is added a little outside information, etc.,
that occurred to the writer while dotting down the brief family
happenings, which no doubt will be appreciated. The writer
of this little book has endeavored to give a sketch of the family
record in a plain and impartial manner, which will be of in-
terest to some and others perhaps it may not, as there is no
book or writing of any kind that pleases everybody ; not even
the Bible, for I heard a man say once that the Bible had less
sense in it than any book he ever read ; I asked him what ivas
his favorite book; he said, " Jack-The-Giant-Killer ;" so there
you are ; some prefer the Bible, while others prefer " Jack-The-
Therefore, the object in having this little book diversified
with different information besides just the family record, is to
meet the various tastes that the different readers might have.
If anything has been omitted that some may think should
have been inserted, or even otherwise, just remember that this
is not a complete history of eveiy man that is named "Figg,"
as that would fill many volumes. Every man in the world has
a history of his own of some kind; so this book is only his-
torical sketches, in connection with other interesting reading
If you find any mistakes of any kind, don't think strange
of it, as your humble servant is only a man just like you, and
doesn't claim infallibility. If you think you can write a book
without making a single mistake, just try one once for fun
and see how far you get.
Through this book, in different places, you may come across
where the writer referred to his father, or grandfather, etc.,
in describing who a certain relative was; in explanation of
why it was done, was to make it plainer to you, as to who the
relative was; there being so many, you are liable to get con-
fused in tracing relationship between them and yourself un-
less made very plain. I assure you the author doesn't enter-
tain the slightest egotistical feelings whatever.
Frontispiece, Edward Clarence Figg. page
James W., Margaret E. and Elizabeth H. Figg. 12
Lillian Hortense, Sherman and Lindsay Figg 14
L. R. Figg (group picture) _ 23
Hamilton T. Figg... 32
Ellis Lee Figg... 40
The Author when a coal miner 54
Elizabeth (Figg) Riley ....105
Section 1 — Genealogy of the Figg family 9
Section 2 — Includes the brothers and sisters of my grand-
father - 16
Section 1 — Embraces the original William Figg and his
son James, and his descendants - — - 17
Section 2 — Represents Wesley Figg, second son of William,
and his descendants 19
Section 3 — Represents Francis Asbury Figg, third son of
William, and his descendants 20
Section 4 — Represents Nathaniel (Nat) Figg, fourth son
of William ....._ 21
Section 5 — Represents Benjamin Figg, fifth son of William,
and his descendants 21
Section 6 — Represents Wright Figg, sixth son of William,
and his descendants..... 22
Section 7 — Represents Thomas Figg, seventh son of Will-
iam, and his descendants 24
Section 1 — Represents Seeli Figg, brother of William, and
his descendants 25
Includes sketches, pranks, jokes, etc., on some of the rela-
tives whose names and relationship have al-
ready been given 29
Section 1 — Represents Nat Figg and his pranks 29
Section 2 — Sketches of Hamilton and Benoni Figg 31
Section 3 — Describes Wright Figg and his predicament — 35
Section 4 — Embraces James Madison Figg and his mis-
Section 5 — An account of Warner T. Figg, Sr., and three of
his nephews, James W., Charles and Taylor
Boswell, and his nephews' descendants 37
Section 6 — Refers to sketches, jokes, etc., on James W.
Section 7 — Relates to Warner T. Figg, Jr., who ran away
from home when a boy.... 41
Section 8 — Refers to John T. Figg and his son, Howard,
and a brother, William J. Figg 43
Section 1 — Represents the closing sketch of the four Vir-
ginia brothers and descendants 44
Section 2 — Pertains to James Figg, the pugilist, and the
substance of pugilistic rules. 44
Section 1 — Consists of sketches about sales, etc 47
Section 2 — Contains information for school children 50
Section 1 — Embraces the writer's first trip westward,
through Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas,
Texas, etc 54
Section 2 — Tells when the writer first began merchandis-
ing, also other enterprises, etc 62
Section 3 — Description of New Orleans and surrounding
country, also return from the South 81
Section 4 — Religious belief _ 88
Section 1 — Poems of the writer's own comiwsition 91 to 105
Section 2 — Selections from other writers..... 105 to 118
Sketches of the Figg Family from
1719 to 1921, inclusive
Edward Clarence Figg, author of this book, was born in
Shelby County, Ky,, in the Olive Branch Church neighborhood,
eight miles south of Shelbyville, January 3, 1863. He was a
son of James William Figg, a son of Warner Taylor Figg, son
of James Figg, who was a son of John Figg, of Culpepper
County, Virginia, who was in the war of 1775 with George
Washington, John Figg was my great, great grandfather ; he
had four sons, John, Jr., James, William and Seeli, who emi-
grated to Shelby County, Kentucky, in the year 1800 with a
colony of relatives, composed of Figgs, Taylors and Boswells.
One of the family settled in North Carolina way back in
the early days. He raised one son, James Figg, who was bor7i
in North Carolina, and who emigrated to Alabama and raised
two sons, John Lewis, who died at the age of 81 in 1918, and
Joseph James, who died in White County, Arkansas, in May,
1919, at the age of 70. Also two girls, Mrs. Mary Edwards
and Mrs. Martha Rice, who are now living in Beebe, Ark. The
said James Figg, of Alabama, father of the ones just referred
to, emigrated with his family to White County, Arkansas,
about the year 1870 and died there in 1875. His son, Joseph
James Figg, raised one son, James L. Figg, who is now in the
drug business in Bald Knob, Ark., and is also a registered
While the descendants of James, William and Seeli do not
claim the Irish ancestry, yet John, Jr., a half brother of them,
claims the Irish for himself and his descendants, so some of his
10 SKETCHES OP^ THE FIGG FAMILY
offsprincTs say. They claim that the half brother, John, Jr.,
was born in Ireland and that his father, John, was married
twice, the first marriage to an Irish lady, who was the mother
of John, Jr. Whether he was born there while his parents
were on a visit, or whether they lived there a while, I do not
know, but, at any rate, John, Jr., was born in Ireland (so some
say), and that made him an Irishman; therefore, his descend-
ants are of Irish descent, according to their theory, but the
descendants of the three full brothers, James, William and
Seeli, claim England and Wales as their original country, from
the fact that our progenitors lived in England and Wales as
far back as can be traced. (Wales is a little country adjoining
England and might really be considered a part of it. Wales
belongs to England.)
The half brother, John Jr., settled over in Nelson County,
Kentucky, and is buried there. He had one son, Nicholas, who
lived in Hardin County, Kentucky, and died there. Nicholas
had a son, James Jefferson Figg, a blacksmith, who was born
in Shelby County, Kentucky, in 1827, and died in Hardin
County, Kentucky, in 1879, at 52 years of age (died of an acci-
dent) . He raised a family of children. One of his sons, George
Richard Figg, was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, and is
at present a nightwatchman at a brickyard works in Highland
Park, near the suburb of this city. George Richard has a son,
Chester, and a daughter, who have a grocery in Highland Park.
I have finished with the half brother, John, Jr., M^ho came
over to Kentucky from Virginia, together with three other
full brothers, James, William and Seeli Figg. Now I will take
up the three full brothers, beginning with James, and give a
sketch of him and his descendants. He was in the war of 1812,
with Andrew Jackson, and was with him at the battle of New
Orleans ; was living in Shelby County, Kentucky, at the time,
and had a family. He lived to be 65 years old, and died of
dyspepsia, and was buried in an old forsaken family burying
ground five miles south of Shelbyville, Ky., on a farm now
owned by Noble Rogers, I believe, this 1921. There are no
tombstones to mark the grave. He married Miss Elizabeth
« ft (
* * *
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 11
Taylor, in Virginik, sister of William Taylor, about the year
1798, as his first child, Elizabeth (Betsy), was born December
29, 1799, one year before he emigrated to Kentucky. His wife
was a daughter of Nathaniel Taylor, who died in Jefferson
County, Virginia, in 1804. Nathaniel had brothers and sisters,
but I only remember the name of one, and that was John.
Nathaniel Taylor's wife was Nancy Wright, and they had
eleven children, seven boys and four girls. The boys were
William (my great grandfather), Nathaniel, Jr., Thomas T.,
James and John F., of Augusta County, Virginia, Bushrod and
Richard. The girls were Elizabeth, who married James Figg;
Mary married William Figg, a brother of James ; Nancy mar-
ried George Boswell, and Fannie married a Mr. Wright, from
whom the Wrights, of Shelby County, Kentucky, descended.
James Figg had three sons and three daughters. The sons
were Warner Taylor, Edward M. and James Madison; their
ages run as their names go. The girls were Maria, Martha
and Elizabeth (Betsy). Their marriages are as follows:
M^arner T. married his first cousin, Lucinda Taylor, oldest
daughter of William Taylor. Her mother was Mary Murphy,
and Mary Murphy's mother was Rosie O'Darnell.
One of Mary Murphy's brothers, a wealthy old bachelor,
married a Miss Black, daughter of a lawyer. After their mar-
riage they went to Philadelphia to live. They raised three
girls. One of them married a Mr. Jackson, a nephew of Stone-
v/all Jackson, and one married a Mr. Sherman, a relative of
General John Sherman.
The Warner T. Figg, just referred to, was 22 years old
Vv'hen he married, and his wife, Lucinda, was 20. He was bom
March 29, 1808, and died January 17, 1881,, of no particular
disease, just general breakdown, at the age of 73. His wife,
Lucinda, was born June 25, 1810, and died March 8, 1888. She
lived to be 78 years of age. They both lived all their lives in
the neighborhood of their birth, in Shelby County, Kentucky,
the southern portion, of the county, and were buried in Grove
12 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
Hill Cemetery, at Shelbj^ville, Ky., in front of the chapel
(cemetery church), with tombstones to mark their graves.
Warner T. Fig-g, just referred to, had two sons and three
daughters that raised families of their own. The sons were
James William (the oldest) and Bushrod, one son, John T.,
having died single at the age of 24, being born June 3, 1837,
died September 7, 1861. The girls were Bettie, Sarah and
Georgia, all of whom are dead. They are buried in Grove Hill
Cemetery, Shelbyville, Ky.
James William Figg (who was my father) was born in
Shelby County, Kentucky, October 6, 1831, died August 26,
1903, of heart disease, from the effects of pleurisy, which de-
veloped into pneumonia and settled on his heart. He was
buried on the same lot with his parents, they having bought
a lot together. He and his brothers and their father and
grandfather were all Masons. He married when he was 22
years of age. His wife was Margaret Elizabeth Riley, of
Alton, Anderson County, Ky. She was born December 11,
1838, and died in Louisville, Ky., April 15, 1908, at 70 years
of age. Her husband was 72 when he died. She was 15 years
old when she married, and was a daughter of Daniel Riley, a
Baptist minister, of Anderson County, Kentucky. She became
a Methodist after her marriage. Her father was killed by a
horse kicking him in the stomach when she was an infant.
Then she was taken by an uncle, William Settle, and raised.
She had three brothers, James, William and John, and one
sister, Mary, all of whom married and raised families. Her
sister and her brothers are all dead now. Her mother was
Margaret Settle before marriage, and Margaret Settle's mother
was a Miss Edrington.
Margaret Settle was a very beautiful woman. Ske was as
fair as a lily, and her eyes were of the black, sparkling variety.
She was a very tender-hearted woman. When they brought
her husband into the house, after being kicked by the horse,
she never recovered from the shock, and died shortly after-
wards of grief. The Settle family in those days were mill-
wrights and wheelwrights by trade, and were of an inventive
THS NEW TOtC
JAMES w., mar(;.\ri:t e. and Elizabeth ficg
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 13
turn of mind ; so also was my mother's grandfather, Riley, a
millwrig-ht; her grandparents emigrated to Anderson County,
Kentucky, from Culpepper County, Virginia, many years ago.
My parents raised four boys and two girls : John Dewitt,
Joseph Bland, Annie Lucinda, Edward Clarence, Ellis Lee and
Elizabeth H. ; their ages run as their names go: John D., the
oldest, married Julia Settle, his second cousin, daughter of
Dr. Joseph E. Settle, of Nelson County, Kentucky. She is now
dead, and he has remarried and is living in Lebanon Junction.
He raised three boys by his first wife, Samuel Butler, Guthrie
and Joseph W. Figg. Two of the boys are married. Guthrie
married a Miss Sears, of New York, and is living in the State
of New York now; Joseph W. married a Miss Watson, of
Nelson County, Kentucky, and is living there now. The oldest
son, Samuel B., is single and is a soldier, stationed at Newport
The second son of James William Figg is Joseph B., who
married Miss Frances Tichenor, of Spencer County, Kentucky.
They have no children and are living in Frankfort, Ky.
The third child of James William Figg was Annie Lucinda,
who married Marshall McClain, of Spencer County, Kentucky,
but moved to Louisville, Ky., and raised a family. He is in
Florida at the present time, attending to his orange grove, and
f:he is assisting her son, James Wesley McClain, in his work
during her husband's absence. They raised four children, two
boys and two girls, James Wesley, Clarence, Margaret and
Lottie May, all of whom are married ; James Wesley married
Miss Julia Caroline Gilmore, of Louisville, Ky., June 28, 1910.
He is president of the Conservatory of Music, Second and
Broadway, this city, Louisville. His brother, Clarence, mar-
ried Miss Ellis, of this city. They are living in California now.
Margaret married Mr. Oscar William Widman, of Louisville,
Ky., November 13, 1911. They are now living in Ohio. Lottie
May, the youngest, married Dr. Baker, whose office is in the
Atherton Building, this city.
The fourth child of James William Figg was Edward
Clarence (author of this book), who married a Miss Coley, of
1.1 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
Shelby County, Kentucky, but is now a widower. They have
three children, Lillian Hortense, the oldest, who is 19 years of
age; Sherman Dewitt, who is 18, and Lindsay Breckinridge,
the youngest, is 12 years old, all of whom are single and living
in this city, Louisville, Ky.
The fifth one of James William Figg's children was Ellis
I^e, who married Miss lola Snodgrass, of Shelby County, Ken-
tucky. He is in the insurance business here in this city, and
lives at 2616 Hale avenue. They have three children, Forrest
Riley, Clara and Kenneth. The two oldest are married. For-
rest married Miss Minnie Schneider, of Indianapolis, Ind., and
is now living in Daji;on, Ohio; he is in the insurance business.
Clara married Mr. William Roberts, of this city.
The sixth one of James William Figg's children was Eliza-
beth H., whose first husband was Edward L. Gross, of New
York City, and her second husband was Gabriel Riley, of Pitts-
burg, Kan. She died May 3, 1909, from the effects of an opera-
tion for appendicitis, in Pittsburg, Kan., and is buried in
Grove Hill Cemetery, Shelby ville, Ky., by her parents. She
left no children; was 34 years of age when she died, having
been born September 22, 1875.
My father, James William Figg, had one brother and three
sisters, all of whom are dead. Their names were as follows :
Bushrod, Bettie, Sarah and Georgia; they all raised families.
Bushrod was born January 23, 1839, died February 25, 1895,
at 56 years of age, of heart disease. He married Susan Doyle,
of Shelby County, Kentucky, and raised six children, Leslie,
William, Gertie, Marvin, Emmett and Stella, all of whom mar-
ried and are now living, except Gertie, who died about a year
after her marriage to George L. Goss, of Shelby County, Ken-
tucky. Leslie married Miss Callie Fisher, of Shelby County,
and raised two boys, Roddie being the oldest. His first wife
died and he has married again.
William W., the second son of Bushrod Figg, married
Roberta Cosby, of Shelby County. They have one son, Stan-
ley, and one daughter.
LIM.IAN IIORTENSE, SHI KM AN AM) I IM)S\^ F1G(;
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 15
Marvin, the third son of Bushrod Figg, married Miss
Georgia Anderson, of Shelby County, and have one son, May
Anderson, and a daughter.
Emmett, the fourth son of Bushrod Figg, married Miss
Jusie Donohue, of Shelby County. They have no children.
Stella, the youngest child, and daughter of Bushrod Figg,
married John Carpenter, a farmer of Shelby County, and they
Bettie, the oldest sister of my father, married William W.
Jesse, a farmer, of Shelby County, Kentucky; they have five
children living, Warner W., Tilden, Minnie, Virgia and Lillie.
Warner W., who is a lawyer in Shelbyville, Ky., is married.
Tilden, a farmer, married a Miss Thurman; Minnie, John
Taylor; Lillie married a Mr. Doyle, and Virgia is a widow.
Sarah, second sister of my father, married James Payne,
a farmer, of Shelby County; they raised two children, Thomas
W. and Annie; they are both married. Thomas W. lives in
the State of Oregon, I believe, and Annie lives here in this
city, at 2506 West Oak street. She married Shelby C. Figg, a
minister of the Gospel and also a stock dealer at the Bourbon
Stock Yards, here in this city. They have a family of boys
and girls; their two sons, Thomas and Curtis, are interested
in the stock yard business with their father.
Georgia, the third and youngest sister of my father, mar-
ried D. J. Doyle, a prosperous farmer, in Shelby County, Ken-
tucky. They raised five children, Lillie, William, Manda, Susie
and Margaret, all of whom are living and are all married, ex-
cept Manda and Susie, who are single and are keeping house
for their father, their mother being dead. The oldest daugh-
ter, Lillie, married Leonard Scarce, a farmer, of Shelby Coun-
ty, Kentucky. William married Miss Amy Harris. Margaret
married Forrest Coots, of Shelby County, Kentucky.
16 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
SECTION 2, IN CHAPTER 1.
My grandfather, Warner T. Figg, Sr., had two brothers
and three sisters, Edward M., James Madison, EHzabeth
(Betsy), Maria and Martha; Edward M. was born in Shelby
County, Kentucky, September 20, 1818, and died January 8,
1899. He was married twice ; his first wife was a Miss Dooley ;
he had five children by her; John T,, a real estate man in
Houston, Texas, who is now 79 years old, and Columbus C,
who lives near Bardstown, Nelson County, Ky., a farmer ; and
the three girls were Sarah, Lydia and Melvina.
Edward M. Figg's second wife was a Miss Carris, and to
that union was born two sons, H. C. and William J., both of
whom are dead. The John T. Figg, just referred to, was mar-
ried twice, married two sisters. Misses Threlkelds ; he raised
one son, Howard, and a daughter, Mamie, who married Will-
iam Cardwell, of Shelbyville, Ky.
Columbus C. Figg, brother of John T., married a Miss Mc-
Gowan, I believe; they raised one daughter, who married a
Mr. Muir, son of a banker in Bardstown, Ky.
H. C. Figg, a half brother of John T. and Columbus C, and
a full brother of William J. Figg, married a Miss Jesse, and
raised one son, Jesse.
William J. Figg, full brother of H. C, married Miss Rosa
Turner, and raised one daughter, Ola Logan.
The three sisters of John T. and Columbus C. Figg, who
were Sarah, Lydia and Melvina, all married and raised fami-
lies. Sarah was mamed three times; her first husband was
Shepherd Massie, of Spencer County, Kentucky; they emi-
grated to Kansas and raised one son, Edward ; then her second
marriage was to a Mr. Holms, and to that union was born one
son, Jesse ; then her third marriage was to a Mr. McAvoy.
Lijdia, second sister of John T. and Columbus C. Figg,
married Walter Robertson, Sr., and they raised a family.
Melvina also married and raised a family.
James Madison Figg, youngest brother of Warner T. Figg,
Sr., was married twice ; his first wife was a Miss Carrico ; they
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 17
raised three children, Joseph Butler, Annie and Melvina; the
son, Joseph Butler, emigrated to Claj' City, Illinois, and raised
a family. The girls, Annie and Melvina, had government po-
sitions of some kind the last information I had of them. James
Madison Figg's second wife was a Miss Clements, and to that
union was born two girls. After his death his widow and the
two girls emigrated to Daviess County, Kentucky, with some
Warmer T. Figg's three sisters are as follows: Elizabeth
(Betsy), who was born December 29, 1799, and died December
16, 1877, at the age of 78 ; married Edward Boswell, her first
cousin, who was born December 4, 1798, and died October 6,
1853, at 55 years of age. They raised five boys and three
girls, James W. Charles, Taylor, George W. and Ben j anion F. ;
the girls were Malinda, who married Wm. Smith; Harriet
married John Beckham, and Nancy married Harvy Neal. They
are all dead, except Benjamon F., who is now living in this
city. Taylor, the last one of the Boswell brothers to die up to
the present writing, was born in 1828, and died in 1910 at 82
>ears of age.
The second sister of Warner T. Figg, Sr., was Maria, who
married Wm. Dulin ; they raised a family of children.
The third sister, Martha, married her first cousin, Wright
Figg, and they raised a large family, whose names will be
taken up later, also their descendants.
William Figg, one of the three full brothers who came over
to Shelby County, Kentucky, from Culpepper County, Vir-
ginia, in the year 1800, with a colony of relatives, married
Mary Taylor, sister of his brother James' wife, Elizabeth;
therefore, he and his brother married two sisters. He was a
son of John Figg, and he raised seven boys and three girls,
IS SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
James, Wesley, Francis Asbury, Nathaniel (Nat), Benjamon,
Wright and Thomas. The girls were Mary, Emily and Court-
ney. Courtney was the only one of the girls that married;
she mamed a Mr. Hite. Mary and Emily lived to be very old,
and died in Shelbyville, Ky., July 14, 1884. Mary was bom
March 22, 1802, and Emily was bom November 15, 1808,
making Emily 76 and Mary 82 when they died. They are
buried in Grove Hill Cemetery, Shelbyville, Ky.
James Figg, the oldest one of the seven sons of William
and Marj^ Figg, was bom in Culpepper County, Virginia,
March 19, 1792 ; died July 3, 1883, at the age of 91 years. He
was married twice; he man*ied two sisters. Misses McCor-
mack, of Shelby County, Kentucky. He raised one son, John,
who was born December 6, 1824, and died May 4, 1902, at 78
years of age. He married Miss Mildred Wright, of Shelby
County, Kentucky, who was born May 25, 1827, and died June
8, 1907, at the age of 80. They raised six boys and four girls,
all of whom are living except the oldest boy, James, and the
oldest girl, Susan. The ones that are living are George, Ben-
jamon J., Crittenden, Edward S., Shelby C, Margaret, Mamie
George Figg, the oldest one of the ten children of John and
Mildred Figg that are living, married a Miss Clark, of Shelby
County, Kentucky, and they raised one boy, Clark, and two
daughters. He is now living at 714 East St. Catherine street,
this city, and is in the employ of the L. & N. R. R. Co.
Benjamon J., the second son of John and Mildred Figg,
married Miss Ida Bibb, of Pleasureville, Ky. They raised one
daughter. Miss Willie May, who taught school for a while, till
she got married. Benjamon J. has married again, and was
living at Pewee Valley, a few miles east of this city, the last
Crittenden, the third oldest son, is still single. The fair
damsels seem to have failed to captivate his palpitating heart
up to the present. He is interested in the automobile business
in Shelbyville, Ky. The style of the firm is The Liberty Garage
Co. He is also a live stock trader, in hogs, cattle, sheep, etc.
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 19
Edward S., the fourth son, married a Miss Cook, of Shelby
County, near Mt. Eden, and is now farming in that neighbor-
Shelby C, the fifth son, married Miss Annie Payne, of
Shelby County, Kentucky. He is a minister of the Gospel and
also a live stock dealer at the Bourbon Stock Yards at the east
end of Market street, this city, and lives at 2506 West Oak
street, this city. They raised a family of boys and girls. He
has two boys, Thomas and Curtis, both of whom are interested
in the stock yard business with him. Of the four sisters of
Shelby C. Figg, they married as follows :
Susan, who is dead, married Claud Radcliff ; Margaret mar-
ried James Payne; she is a widow now, with two married
daughters, and is living with one in Virginia, who married a
Methodist preacher; Mamie, one of the four sisters, married
Ruben C. Smith, a successful farmer; Sarah married a Mr.
LeGrand McGee, of this city.
SECTION 2 IN CHAPTER 2.
Wesley Figg, the second one of the seven sons of the origi-
lial William Figg who came over to Kentucky from Virginia
in 1800, married Miss Ann Biyant, of Louisville, Ky., and emi-
grated to Hendricks County, Indiana, one and a half miles
west of Coatesville, some time between the years 1848 and
1850. He and his brother, Francis Asbury, emigrated at the
same time together, and settled near each other. Wesley raised
one son, Millard Fillmore, and one daughter, Marguerete ; she
is now dead. Millard Fillmore lives in Irvington, Ind., an
annex to Indianapolis.
20 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
SECTION 3 IN CHAPTER 2.
Francis Asbury Figg, the third one of the seven brothers,
sons of the original William Figg, was born September 1,
1804, in Shelby County, Kentucky, and died near Coatesville,
Ind,, December 10, 1887, at the age of 83 years, three months
and nine days. He was united in marriage to Miss Rebecca
Harrison, in Shelby County, Kentucky. She was born Decem-
ber 10, 1808, and died December 11, 1887, at the age of 79
years and one day. She and her husband, Francis Asbuiy,
passed away together and were laid to rest in the same grave.
He lived one and three-fourths miles northwest of Coatesville,
ind., where he first settled when he and his brother, Wesley,
emigrated. His brother, Wesley, died first.
Francis Asbury Figg was the father of five children. His
son Gabriel, who is now deceased, left a widow, now deceased,
and three boys — George M,, now living in Kansas City, Mo.;
Charles F., now living in Topeka, Kan., and Wilbur H., de-
ceased within the last year.
Hiram Figg, the second son of Francis Asbury, is past 87
years of age, and is now living in California, and is the father
of six children, all living but one. They are located in Cali-
fornia and the State of Washington.
William Henry Figg, the third son of Francis Asbury, was
bom in Shelby County, Kentucky, October 10, 1834, and died
January 29, 1915, at 81 years of age. He was united in mar-
riage January 17, 1861, to Luisa Miller, who is still living at
this writing, this May, 1921, and to their union were born
seven children, all of whom are dead except Laura A., Archi-
bald A. and James William, of Danville, Ind.
Robert Figg, the fourth son of William Henrj' Figg, and
grandson of Francis Asbury Figg, died during the World War,
leaving a widow. He was the father of four children ; all are
dead except John W., a prominent and prosperous citizen.
Archibald A. Figg, the third son of William Henry Figg,
and grandson of Francis Asbury Figg, lives in Danville, Ind. ;
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 21
went there in the fall of 1898, served for four years as Sheriff,
and has been in the automobile business for the past ten years,
but retired some time ago to engage in auctioneering and look-
ing after his farm interests. He is an auctioneer of consid-
erable note, specializing in the sales of pure-bred swine, cover-
ing the territory of Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
Wesley and Francis Asbury Figg, the two brothers who
were the forefathers of the numerous families just referred
to in Indiana, were always considered stanch and honorable
citizens. They were Methodist in their religious belief, and
the descendants of the two, while considerably scattered, have
maintained the honor and integrity of their forefathers, none
being arrested or convicted for violations of the laws of their
State and country, and always ready to honor and maintain
SECTION 4 IN CHAPTER 2.
Natlmniel (Nat) Figg, the fourth one of the seven brothers,
sons of the original Wm. Figg, who came over to Kentucky
from Virginia in the year 1800, married, but left no children.
SECTION 5 IN CHAPTER 2.
Benjamon Figg, the fifth one of the seven brothers, mar-
ried a Miss Graves, of Shelby County, Kentucky, daughter of
Edmond Graves, a farmer, and they raised two boys and three
girls. Hamilton Taylor and Benoni were the boys, and the
girls were Jane, Frances and Courtney; they all married and
Hamilton Taylor Figg was bom in Shelby County, Ken-
tucky, June 15, 1811, and lived to be 96 years old; he died
about January, 1907. He came to Lrouisville when a young
man, and was the father of five living children when he died,
two boys and three girls, Hamilton A. and Henry, neither of
22 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
whom had any children; Henry is now dead; Hamilton A.,
lives on Jefferson street, between Second and Third; one of
his daughters married John F. Spangler, now of St. Louis,
Mo., and they raised a family ; one of her boys is a minister of
the Gospel ; and another one of Hamilton T. Figg's daughters
married Edward Smith, of this city ; Miss Anna, his youngest
daughter, is not married. His wife was Miss Mary Flemming.
Benoni Figg, brother of Hamilton T., married Miss Annie
Liter, and they raised two girls; one of them married a Mr.
Gheens, of the firm of Bradas & Gheens, candy manufacturers.
Kenoni died in Louisville in 1904, leaving a widow, who is now
SECTION 6 IN CHAPTER 2.
Wright Figg, the sixth one of the seven brothers, sons of
the original William Figg, who came over from Virginia in
1800, married his first cousin, Martha Figg, sister of my
grandfather, Warner T. Figg, Sr. ; they raised a family of
eight children, four boys and four girls ; the boys were Warner
T., Jr., James, George and LeGrand; the girls were Ann,
Mary, Carrie and Martha; Warner T., Jr., married Mollie
Combs, and had no children; George married, and had no
children; James married Lucinda Hiter and raised four chil-
dren, two boys and two girls, William H., Alfred, Emma and
Lizzie ; William H. Figg married Elizabeth Dettmer and have
two sons living, James having died a year ago, leaving a widow
and two children. William H. Figg's two living sons, William
H., Jr., and Harry, are both married and have children. Wm.
H., Jr., is not living in this city at present, but his brother,
Harry, lives at 613 West Broadway, this city. Harry's father,
William H., lives at 1661 Gallagher street, this city, and
is employed at the Peerless Manufacturing Company ; so also
is his brother, Alfred, who married Mollie East and who lives
at 1760 West Oak street. Alfred has two boys living, Alfred,
Jr., and, I believe, the other one's name is May Humphrey,
THK MEW TORC
TlLDf.N rouNc*~!r »*'
I.. K. I K,(; X AM) TIIRKl. lU'SINESS ASSOCIATES
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 23
and he has about six girls. The two sisters of William H. and
Alfred Figg are Emma and Lizzie; both are married; one
lives in Chicago, and one lives on Cawthon street, this city.
LeGrand Figg, one of the four sons of Wright Figg, mar-
ried Maria Ann Davis, daughter of Isaac Davis, who was a
first cousin of Jefferson Davis, President of the Southern Con-
federacy, whose mother was Miss Jane Cook. LeGrand Figg
was the father of two children, LeGrand R., Jr., and Miss
P'annie; their father died while they were very small children.
LeGrand R. married Miss Fannie Neff, of Louisville, Ky. They
had one son, Allan L. Figg, who died of influenza a year or
two ago, leaving a widow.
LeGrand R. figg spent his early days in California, fann-
ing, with an uncle, LeGrand R. Davis, and, on returning to
Louisville, engaged in the coal business ; then, afterwards, be-
gan contracting in street and road making, and has been in
that business continuously for the last thirty years, and is a
shrewd business man. His office is at Floyd and Lee streets,
this city, and his residence is 11 Castlewood, an aristocratic
part of the city.
Here is the style of his firm :
L. R. Figg, President F. E. Figg, Secretary
Dealers in Sand, Gravel and Stone.
Specialties: Reinforced Concrete, Vitrified Brick and
Concrete Paving, Wrecking and Excavating.
L. R. FIGG COxMPANY (Incorporated)
Southwest Corner Floyd and Lee Streets.
The four daughters of Wright Figg married as follows:
Martha married a Mr. Iceler ; Mary married a Mr. Hemp, and
had children; Ann married Jacob Spangler, a carpenter, and
they raised one son. Dr. John F., who married a daughter of
24 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
Hamilton T. Fig-g-, and they raised seven children, boys and
girls; they moved to St. Louis to live; the other sister, Carrie,
never married, lived to middle age and died.
SECTION 7 IN CHAPTER 2.
Thomas Flgg, the last one of the seven brothers, sons of the
original Wm. Figg, who came over to Kentucky from Virginia
in the year 1800, married a Miss Smith in Virginia, I believe,
and emigrated to Shelby County, Kentucky, and raised five
children, John, James and Thomas Jefferson Figg, also two
girls, Mary and Martha ; three of the number, John, James and
Mary died many years ago, leaving no children; Thomas J.,
who died September 15, 1881, married and had eight children,
but only three are living; they are John, Charles and Annie,
of Louisville, Ky. ; Charles has four children living; they are
John, Walter, Lafayette and Lizzie, and they live at 133 Will-
iam street, this city. His brother, John, has two children, Ben
and Bertha, and they live at 133 William street, this city. Ben
is now living in Detroit, Mich.
I have a little joke on Ben. He may not want me to tell
this, but I will tell it anyhow, as we are all kinfolks, although
1 did not know who he was at the time, never had heard ot
him. When I ran a country store in Shelby County several
years ago, a cei-tain young lady in the neighborhood sold me
some eggs; on one of the eggs she wrote her name and ad-
dress ; I sold the eg-gs to a market man ; the market man sold
them to a commission house here in the city. In course of
time Ben Figg got the eg^ with the writing on it. He wrote
to the lady and corresponded with her ; had up quite a corre-
spondence for a while, so she said. She asked me about Ben,
but I could not give her any information, only that if his name
was "Figg," I supposed we were related, as I claimed them
all, good and bad.
Now, going back to the Thomas Figg we started with in
this line, who was a son of the original William Figg, who
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 25
came over to Kentucky from Virginia in the year 1800, we
will take up his daughter, Martha, who married James Taylor,
her second cousin; she raised three children, Charles, Van S.
and Annie Belle, all of whom married as follows: Charles
married Mrs. Lou (Breemaker) Mappin, of Louisville, Ky. ;
she raised one son, Orville Taylor, of this city, her husband
having died September 11, 1881, while Orville was small, leav-
ing her a widow, who is now dead.
Vail S. Taylor, second son of Martha (Figg) Taylor, mar-
ried Miss Cora Allen, of Shelby County, Kentucky ; they raised
one daughter, Grace, who married a Mr. Smith, of Finchville,
Ky. She is now dead, leaving one or two children.
Annie Belle, the third child of Martha (Figg) Taylor, mar-
ried B. M. Beckham, of Spencer County, Kentucky, a farmer;
they are now living in Shelbyville, Ky. ; their only daughter,
Ollie, having married a few years ago, they moved to town
and quit farming.
I have finished the genealog>^ of James Figg and his de-
scendants, also his half brother, John, Jr., and his descend-
ants in CMpter One, and have also finished the genealogical
sketch of William Figg, his brother, and his descendants, in
Chapter Two. Now I will take up the third and last of the full
brothers who came over to Kentucky from Virginia in the
Seeli Figg, son of John Figg, was born May 4, 1776, in
Virginia, the year the Declaration of Independence was de-
clared. He came over to Kentucky when 24 years of age, with
his brothers and other relatives. He lived in Shelby County,
Kentucky, for a long time, then emigrated to Indiana, and
settled one mile north of Ellettsville, where he lived the re-
mainder of his days. He died September 11, 1855. His wife
was Miss Mollie Dean ; they raised one son, Thomas Figg, who
was bom October 8, 1805, and died March 15, 1867.
26 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
Thomas Figg, the son of Seeli, married Rebecca Howerton,
daughter of Thomas Howerton, of Shelby County, Kentucky;
they were married November 13, 1826. Rebecca was bom
March 8, 1810, and died January 23, 1897, at 87 years of age.
Rebecca's father, Thom.as Howerton, was married twice, his
first wife being a Miss Coots, who was the mother of Rebecca.
His second wife was a Miss Gordon, who was the mother of
Old Uncle Tommie Howerton, as he was called, who lived to be
very old and who died in Shelby Countj^ Kentucky, a few
Thomas and Rebecca Figg raised thirteen children, five
boys and eight girls, Jane, Elizabeth, Martha, Nancy, Sarah
Ann, Mildred, Caroline, Emiline, James W., Thomas D., John
S., Samuel C. and Seeli, Jr. There are only three of them liv-
ing now, Nancy, Caroline and Samuel C. ; one of them died
about two years ago, which was Dr. John S. Figg, who lived
in Spencer, Indiana. There are 73 grandchildren of Seeli Figg,
and 152 great grandchildren, and about 60 great, great grand-
children. The old Figg farm of their ancestor, Seeli Figg, is
situated one mile north of Ellettsville, Ind., and consisted of
about 300 acres. The old house is still standing, although not
used any more.
The kinfolks here used to tell a good many jokes on Uncle
Seeli, way back in early days, in Shelby County, Kentucky,
before he emigrated to Indiana. Some of his friends in Shelby-
ville one day, just to have a little fun out of him, made it
up between themselves for different ones of them to meet him
on the street and tell him that there was a letter in the post-
office for him and Henry Curtendoll. The postmaster was a
very high -tempered man, and they knew that Seeli would fight,
too, if you crowded him, so they thought they would watch
the results. He went in a huriy to the office and called for it.
Of course, there was no letter there, so the postmaster told
him there was no mail for him.
After he had gotten back on the street, another of his
"friends" spoke to him and said, "Mr. Figg, I just came from
the post-office, and the postmaster said there was a letter there
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 27
for you and Henry Curtendoll." The old fellow thinking, of
course, the postmaster had overlooked his letter, went hump-
ing back and called again. The postmaster looked at him a
little hard and told him that there was no mail there for him ;
hut after he was out on the street again, walking around, he
met another one of his "friends," and he, too, told him that he
just came from the post-office and the postmaster shotved him
the letter and he knew it teas there; so he went the third time
His "friends" knew the postmaster's temper, so they fol-
lowed after Uncle Seeli that trip, expecting to see a fight sure
enough. When he called, the postmaster made at him, but
Seeli squared himself, and the gentleman stopped just before
he got to him. Seeli's reply to the offended gentleman was :
"Why, you must be a d — n fool ; I'll knock your d — n brains
out, you fool with me!"
People in olden times used to believe in ghosts a good deal,
and the superstition still exists with a great many. In one
room of a certain house, not far from where I was raised, it
was considered haunted, and the cover, it was said, would slide
off the bed and could not be held on by whoever v;as in the
bed; so Uncle Seeli stayed all night at that neighbor's house,
and they put him in that room to sleep, knowing he Vv^as not
afraid of anything, as they wanted to see what he would do ;
so when the cover began to slide off Seeli raised up and looked
around awhile and finally said : "Good morning. Captain
Snorts; you pull and I'll pull, and we'll sec who can out-pull."
While the above anecdote is true, yet some mischievous person
evidently slipped under the bed, just to scare Seeli.
I have a comb, made out of sugar tree wood, that Uncle
Seeli made over a hundred years ago, for his brother, James,
to comb out his horse's mane and tail. His brother, James,
had a fine stallion, called Llurdock.
One day Uncle Seeli and three of the neighbor men, who
had come over to see him, were sitting talking on Scripture;
they were a little inclined to be of the old-style type, and it
seemed they had taken a drink or two some time previously ;
28 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
they were Bobby Godfrey, Heniy Curtendoll and Billie McKin-
ley. Billie looked over to Curtendoll and said : "H-e-n-r-y, do
you believe that Gawd made you and me and Baub and See-li ?"
Henry jumped up and said: "Yes! but he'll be dad-dum
sorry of it!"
After they had conversed quite intelligently for some time
on Scripture, Billie McKinley concluded he would get a drink
of water, so he started across the floor, taking in both sides of
the room at the same time, and fell over Curtendoll's feet, who
was sitting in a chair, with his feet stretched about halfway
across the room, but when Billie fell over him, he looked up
rather angrily and said : "Gawd d — n yer, keep off my feet!"
Billie stuck his lip up and handed him this: "Haneiy, keep
yer d — n feet to yer self."
No doubt they knew a great deal about the Bible ; Curten-
doll especially, as he was a veiy intelligent man. He sent his
boy, "Little Hen," as he called him, to school one day, and that
night he handed him the Bible and told him to read a chapter,
and v/hen "Little Hen" failed to read it, he said he'd never
send him to school another day, as he had been there all day
long and couldn't read yet. "Little Hen" never went to school
Country people are blessed with plenty to eat ; true enough,
they have to work for it, but they have it just the same; but
sometimes they run a little short as well as city folks. Occa-
sionally their milk supply runs dow^n pretty low, when their
cows are out of commission for awhile. My father used to
laugh and tell about once, when he was a boy, his father's
cows failed in their milk and didn't hardly get any for awhile ;
during the time Uncle Seeli dined with them. At the table he
took a glass of milk, the very thing my father didn't want him
to take; he drank the glass of milk and passed it back to my
grandmother and said he only wanted three droops more of
milk. He held his glass in his hand till it was about to run
over; then, in great surprise (seemingly), he exclaimed:
"Why, there! there! Lucinda! I only wanted three drops."
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 29
Nat Figg-, son of William Figg, who was a brother of Seeli
and James, was one of the most mischievous of all our rela-
tives. He didn't mean any harm by his pranks, but some of
them were a little hard on the other fellow. On one occasion
he was sleeping with a stranger, and he concluded to have a
little fun. So, when they went to bed, he told the fellow that
sometimes he had fits, but there was no danger in the world in
him, and all that was necessary was to keep a little out of his
way, and that you could always tell when the fit was coming
on, as it only happened while he was asleep and that he would
begin to grit his teeth just before it came on.
They had only been to bed a short while till Nat began to
grit his teeth. The fellow made one leap and landed out in
the middle of the floor, and away he went down the stairs
like a bullet shot out of a gun, and Nat right after him. As
the fellow made a quick turn at the foot of the steps he struck
his hip against the banisters and hurt himself right badly.
Nat, of course, regretted the accident very much, as he only
meant to have a little fun. He paid the man's doctor bill and
\^'aited on him; treated him so kindly afterwards that he
gained his good will and friendship.
On another occasion, his father, who was a good old
Methodist, was having family prayer at night ; all of the fam-
ily were down on their knees engaged in prayer; but Nat, he
couldn't stand to worship very long at a time. The fire was
burning bright, so he reached over and stuck the poker in the
fire and got it red-hot, and touched up one of the boys with it
who was bent over in a favorable position. When the boy
began to cry the old gentleman mistook his suffering for re-
ligious convictions, but when he finished his prayer, looked
around, and Nattie was gone, he knew what had happened,
but Nattie could not be found right then.
Once, when his father was going away early one morning,
he put his razor, shaving mug, etc., handy, where he could find
them the next morning without any trouble, but, unfortunately.
30 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
Nattie slipped out the cake of shaving- soap and put in a piece
of tallow. The old man failed to ever get his soap to lather,
but he said that if he knew just where Nattie was, he would
make hivi lather.
One of Nat's friends was running for the Legislature once,
but was a very poor speaker. Nat asked his friend to let him
make the opening speech to the crowd in his behalf. Permis-
sion was granted, of course, as the fellow was glad to have
somebody make the speech for him. Nat praised his friend
to the highest and everything was going along all right, until
he extended his praise a little too far and declared that his
friend, Neel, had told him that, if elected, he would cause the
Ohio River to separate, one-half to run up stream and the
other half down stream, so people could walk across dry-shod.
But when he said that, Neel couldn't stand it any longer, so
he raised up and shook his fist in the air and said : "Nat, you
knoiv tlvat's a lie!"
Out in the country, farmers all mark their hogs by cutting
a little piece out of one or both ears, so as to identify them if
they stray off or get stolen, etc. They aim to have their mark
a little different to their neighbors.
Nat Figg was riding along one day and saw a fellow stand-
ing by the side of the road, and he concluded to pretend as if
he had lost some hogs. He stopped and said to the man:
"Mister, have you seen any stray hogs around here " Of
course, the man asked him what was his mark. Nat told him
that he had a very peculiar mark and he would know it any-
where he would see it, as his hogs were marked with an under-
bit and an over-bit, a crop and a slit, and their tails sawed off
with a basket-split. The fellow looked up rather foolish and
said : "No, Mister, I haven't seen anything of your hogs."
Once Nat was passing by where two old people were living.
He stopped and told them that he was buying all kinds of fowl.
He offered such an enormous price that they concluded to sell
all they had — chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese and all. He told
them to have the fowl ready, that his wagons were coming on
and would take them all and pay the cash. He went up the
SKETCHES OP^ THE FIGG FAMILY 31
road a little ways and stopped ; then watched them catch up all
their fowl, but his wagons failed to come.
Back in those days there were no railroads between Shelby-
ville and Louisville. People did all their traveling principally
in wagons. Between the two places there were taverns scat-
tered along for people to stop and stay all night, or get their
This same famous Nat Figg, we have been telling about,
stopped to stay all night at one of them. During the night he
got up and took a big turkey gobbler off the roost and put it
in his wagon ; also he took one of the blankets off the bed he
slept in and put it in his wagon. The next morning, before he
started, he told the landlady that he had a very fine turkey
gobbler he would sell cheap, and also a nice big bed blanket for
half price. The lady looked at his blanket and bought it at
once, as she told him that she had one exactly like it, that cost
her twice as much as he asked for his; also, she bought the
gobbler. But lo and behold ! When she found she had bought
her own turkey and blanket she was exceedingly angry; but
Nat was gone. Nevertheless, on his way back home from
Louisville, he stopped and gave back the money to the lady, and
they both enjoyed the joke. Strange to say, this same Nat
Figg, whom one would think never had a thought of religion,
became very religious in his last days, and continued so.
SECTION 2 IN CHAPTER 4.
Hamilton and Benoni Figg were two brothers, sons
of Benjamon Figg, and grandsons of the original William
Figg, who came over to Kentucky from Virginia in 1800. They
were powerful men in strength. They came to Louisville from
Shelby County, Kentucky, when they were young men, and
lived to be very old, and died here. Many years ago a fellow
was teaching boxing school here in the city. Benoni concluded
he would take a few lessons, but the fellow told him that he
couldn't do any good teaching him unless he would quit hitting
so hard. Everv^ once in a while the teacher would say, "Lighter,
32 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
Ben, lighter." But Ben told him that he was ah'eady hitting
as light as he could and was only just playing with him.
One a prizefight was arranged here between Benoni and a
pugilist from Indiana, but when they prepared themselves for
the fight and were on the stage, Benoni went up to the fellow,
laughing, and the gentleman backed out, saying he wouldn't
fight a man that was laughing.
An old man told me once that he went to school with
Benoni, and that Ben was the stoutest boy he ever saw, and
that no other boy at school could do anything with him at all.
Benoni was a peacable man and always kept out of trouble, if
possible. He died here in Louisville in 1904.
His brother, Hamilton T., was a good-hearted man and
always gave liberally to the poor, way back in early days when
he had plenty, before he lost what he had, going security on
other men's notes, etc. But Hamilton was a very high-tem-
pered man and wouldn't take an insult ofl? of anybody, and
seemed to take delight in getting hold of a bully who was try-
ing to show off what he could do.
Once, at a big gathering here in the citj'', the streets were
crowded with people, all pushing through and wanting to see
everything at the same time, and somebody ran against a big
negro in the jam. The negro whirled around and wanted to
know: "Whose zat bumped ginst me? Some po' white trash,
Hamilton Figg was near him when he made the remark,
but knew nothing about the happening at all. Nevertheless,
when the negro blowed and puffed about what he could do and
that somebody better make "theyselves skerce" around here,
Hamilton told one of his friends that was with him that he
believed he would let the nigger try "Old Roan" one round
(calling himself "Old Roan"). So he stepped up to where the
negro was standing, looking around, to see who had offended
his dignity, and just remarked in an easy tone, "Why, Sweet
Jesus, honey, it was me that bumped against you." At that
the negi'o made at him, but Hamilton was too quick for him
and jumped a little to one side and landed one on the negro's
HAMILTON FIGG, 94 YEARS OF AGE
TMS Mt'fi tOt«
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 33
jaw, which left him stretched out till somebody picked him up.
I was working with an old German once, and when I told
him my name he said: "Vy, dot vosh a fa-mil-yah name to
me ; I youst to know an old man, his name vosh Figg ; he vosh
an aw-ful sti-oot (stout) man; dey called him 'Old Honey'."
T knew who he meant when he said "Old Honey," as that was
a nickname that Hamilton often went by, perhaps on account
of the byword he often used, which was : "Sweet Jesus,
He was passing the Gait House once, riding a little sorrel
horse, all reared back, like the whole United States belonged
to him, and there were four smart-aleck fellows standing in
front. One of them hallooed out: "Hey, there, Mister, pull
them strings when you get ready to stop !" In an instant he
threw his bridle-reins over the horse's head onto the ground,
and told them he was ready right now, and stepped over to
vv^here the gentlemen were and knocked all four of them down
so quick that they didn't hardly realize what had happened,
got back on his horse, and away he went down the street,
holding to his "strings," as the fellows called them.
He liked to get hold of a big, impudent negro, one that
other men were afraid to tackle, or any kind of a bully; it
didn't make any difference to him. He got into a little argu-
ment with one of that kind on the street one day, and the
negro told him that if he had the right of a white man he
would eat him up. Hamilton told him that he would give him
all the rights and privileges that he might ask for. So they
v/ent together, but the skirmish didn't last long, as, at the first
pass that was made, the negro's heels went up in the air and
he halloed out at once : "Boss, please don't hut me ; I's done
Hamilton Figg, Warner Figg, Jr., and Jim Combs went to
an Irish dance once. When they got there the doors were
locked; no one else allowed in. When they knocked on the
door, the ones on the inside told them to "take the back track,
that everything there was Irish and the Irish were all there, so
move on, and don't be long about it."
24 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
Hamilton told the boys that he was going- in, and going in
right noiv. So he pushed up his sleeves and made a spring at
the door and bursted it wide open. Then the three gentlemen
.stepped in together and kept their backs to the wall, so they
couldn't be surrounded, and stood side by side and knocked
dovni Irish as fast as they came to them.
Once there was to be a buffalo fight at the stock yards, and
the man that was telling me about it said he saw men running
and climbing up on the fence to look over. So he ran, too, in
order to see the buffalo fight, but when he climbed up on the
fence and looked over, it was Hamilton Figg and a man in
there fighting, and they were the two buftaloes.
On one occasion he and George Figg, a brother of Warner
T, Figg, Jr., etc., had been out in the country, near Louisville,
in a wagon, and, in coming back, driving doivn hill, their
wagon wheel locked into a wheel of a wagon that a negro was
driving, going up the hill. George Figg was doing the driving,
and when he hooked into the negro's wagon, instead of stop-
ping, he drove on to the foot of the hill, the same as if he never
saw the negro. When they reached the foot of the hill the
negro jumped out, and George got off of his wagon, and they
started meeting one another, but before they got together
Hamilton ran in between them and said to the negro : "Why,
you wouldn't hit a white man, would you?" The negro let him
know that he would hit a white man as quick as he would any-
body else and that if he didn't get out of the way, d — n quick,
he would show him better than he could tell him. That was
just what Hamilton wanted him to say, so he would have an
excuse to down him. The first lick he made he knocked him
unconscious ; then he and George picked him up and put him
in the wagon and started the negro's horses on home. The
horses went on home, all right, and when the negro told his
master what had happened and who had done it (it being slave
time then), his owTier jumped on a horse and came to town,
good and mad. He met an old man on the street, and asked
him could he tell him where Hamilton Figg lived, that he
wanted to see him, and he wanted to see him bad. The old
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 35
man said to him : "You seem to be angry about something ;
what's the trouble?" Then he told him that Hamilton Figg
liked to have killed one of his niggers, and he wanted to see
Vdm about it. "Well," the old man said to him, "Hamilton Figg
is my son, and I can show him to you ; that's him way down
the street yonder, whipping one of his horses that has balked.
He is mad now, and I would advise you to go on back home
and let matters remain as they are, for if you go down there
now, while he is mad, and say anything out of the way to him,
you might come out worse than the negro." The fellow hesi-
tated a few minutes, then whirled his horse around and con-
cluded to take the old man's advice.
In conversation with a gentleman, once, who was well ac-
quainted with Hamilton Figg in his best days, and who worked
for him at his brickyard, I asked him if he ever knew of him
getting whipped in a fair and square fight. He said no, he
never did, but the nearest he ever knew of him getting whipped
was in a fight with an Irishman at the brickyard. They fell
out about something, and the Irishman was as game as he was,
so they went together and fought till neither of them could
stand alone ; laid on the ground and looked at one another (and
cussed a little, too, I expect). Finally Hamilton got rested
enough to move about a little, and the Irishman gave up.
While Hamilton Figg was most too high-tempered, and
gave way too easily to anger, he had many good traits. For
instance, when he was in good circumstances, he gave away
many a cartload of coal to poor families who were unable to
buy it, and did other charitable deeds.
SECTION 3 IN CHAPTER 4.
Wright Figg. There was another one of the relatives who
v/as an uncommonly stout man. It was Wright Figg, but he
was a very peaceable one, and a good old religious Methodist,
who abhorred drunkenness and rowdiness of any kind, and by
all means never to settle disputes by fighting; let that be the
last thing to do, as it looked beastly and ungentlemanly to him
36 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
to do SO. But on one occasion the old man had to break over
the line a little in that direction, although very much against
He was a farmer in Shelby County, Kentucky, at the time,
but afterwards moved to this city, Louisville, and lived the
remainder of his days. He died of typhoid fever.
One day he was out on his farm, chopping wood near the
road, when one of his nearest neighbors, who had been to town
( Shelby ville), and came back a little "tanked up" with some-
thing that is hard to buy now, came riding along, and, as soon
as he saw Wright Figg, he hitched his horse to the fence and
rolled up his sleeves as far as he could get them, and came
walking up to where Wright was working. The first thing he
&aid was, "Wrightie, I have come to whip you. I have whipped
every man I have tackled yet, and I have concluded that if I
can whip Wright Figg, I'll be champion of the world, so get
yourself ready, I'm coming." He tried to persuade the neigh-
bor to go away and let him alone; that it looked bad to see
neighbors quarreling and fighting. So he said: "Dickie, go
on home and come back some other time." But Dickie wouldn't
go. Instead of going, he made a pass at the old man, who
managed to guard his lick off. Then he grabbed Dickie by the
back of the neck and seat of the pants and carried him to the
road and pitched him over a high rail fence, but failed to
notice there was a stump on the other side of the fence where
a tree had blown down and left it all full of big, sharp splint-
ers sticking up. Dickie fell right in the middle of the splinters
and couldn't get out, so Wright had to climb over the fence
and take him out of them, then carr>' him to where he lived,
which was close by.
After Dickie got well, and able to walk, he went over to
Wright Figg's house to apologize. He said to him : "Wright,
I have nothing in the world against you. I only wanted to see
if I could whip you, but I couldn't, so that's all there is to it.
Now, let's make up and be friends." So they did, and re-
mained friends ever afterwards.
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 37
SECTION 4 IN CHAPTER 4.
James Madison Figg-, youngest brother of my grandfather,
was considered the most handsome one of the relatives, being
tali and well formed, with broad shoulders, and carried him-
self erect, and his complexion was as fair as a woman's, but
they used to tell a little joke on him, about when he went up to
Cincinnati once on a boat.
In coming back, he happened to take on a little of the ex-
hilarating stimulus that makes a millionaire out of a fellow
in a few minutes; so he thought he would exhibit his wealth to
the people on the boat and show them that money was no ob-
ject to him. He had two ten-dollar bills, one good one, and one
was counterfeit, or something of the kind ; so he concluded to
light his cigar with the counterfeit bill, but, unfortunately, he
got hold of the wrong bill and lighted his cigar with it.
When he arrived at Louisville he didn't have a cent, only
his counterfeit bill, and the poor fellow had to walk thirty
miles to get back home, which was in Shelby County, not feel-
ing quite so wealthy, perhaps, on reaching home as he did
while riding on the boat.
SECTION 5 IN CHAPTER 4.
Warner T. P'igg, Sr., my grandfather, was the oldest son
of his father's family. He was a hard-working man and a
successful farmer, honest, sober and upright in every way.
He raised five children that outlived him, two boys and three
girls. Several years before he died he gave each one of them
a farm apiece, containing over a hundred acres each.
While careful in his dealings, yet sometimes he made mis-
takes and lost money ; for instance, he bought a jack and gave
$700 for it, and the thing died within a year, consequently he
lost in the deal. He was a Democrat politically, and a Meth-
odist religiously. He gave an acre of ground on which to build
a church. They named the church Olive Branch. It is six and
a half miles south of Shelbyville, Ky., in a very appropriate
38 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
place for a church. He also donated a good deal towards
building- it. He had three nephews, that were bricklayers (and
also farmers), who were employed to build the church. They
were sons of his sister, Betsy, who married Edward Boswell.
Their names were James W., Charles and Taylor Boswell ; the
oldest one of them was James W., who raised two boys, Dewil-
ton and Eugene, who are farmers ;. Taylor, one of the church
builders, raised four boys, Clinton E., Edward S., Charles
Everett and George, who were farmers, but afterwards quit
farm life and engaged in the following business : Clinton E.
was a real estate man in Louis\dlle, but is now dead. His
business is still continued under the same name, Boswell & Co.,
and is conducted by his two sons.
The second son of Taylor Boswell was Edward S., who has
charge of the Methodist Orphans' Home here in Louisville.
The third son, Charles Everett, was a IMethodist minister
till he died several years ago. George, the youngest son, is a
Charles Boswell, the third son of Betsy Figg Boswell, and
one of the three builders of the church, raised one son, Thomas
Edward, who was a professor in a college in Nebraska, and
who died in 1920, at Shelby\ille, Ky., while here on a visit.
SECTION 6 IN CHAPTER 4.
James W. Figg, my father, was the oldest child of his
father's family. He never accumulated any wealth ; had a
great deal of bad luck in different ways, such as going secur-
ity on other men's notes, stock dying, etc. He had over a
thousand dollars' worth of hogs to die one fall of cholera, after
they were already fattened and ready for the market. He
was a good farmer and always had plenty around him. He
did veterinaiy work of a certain kind ; made it a specialty
with horses and mules. He also ran threshing machines most
of his life, that is, machines to thresh out wheat, rye, oats, etc.
He owned a fine stallion once, called "Sportsman" ; he bought
him in 1867. One day he was riding him to water and a pole-
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 39
cat came walking leisurely along and crossed the road; the
horse reared and lunged furiously; wanted to get hold of it so
bad. Finally my father said : "Old fellow, if you want to get
hold of that pole-cat so bad, I'll just let the reins loose and you
ca,n go into him." The horse made one leap and grabbed the
thing in the middle of the back, gave it a shake and dropped it
about as quick as he grabbed it, and a sicker horse never was
in existence. He came very near dying, but finally got over it.
He never grabbed anything else, but allowed everything that
was smaller than himself to pass by unmolested.
My father was a Christian man; never heard him swear
an oath in my life ; he gave liberally to his church, which was
the Olive Branch Methodist Church, of w^hich we have already
spoken ; he w^as a member of the Little Mount Baptist Church
for eight years, but changed his mind and joined the Meth-
Our lives are made up with a great variety of incidents,
trials, tribulations and sorrows, intermingled with pleasure
and many amusing things as w^e travel along.
Once my father was in conversation with one of his neigh-
bors about something, I don't remember what, and it seemed
they had a different opinion in the matter on some points of
the conversation, when one of his friends, who was standing
by, "butted in" and disputed the neighbor's word in favor of
my father. The neighbor immediately turned his attention to
kwi and wanted to know what he had to do with it. They ex-
changed a few hot words, then the neighbor went after him.
But fortunately there was a stump near by that the "butting
in" friend made good use of, and got behind it, so the fellow
couldn't get him ; then round and round the stump they went,
like a flying dutcliman in the air, till finally Mr. Neighbor gave
out and couldn't run any longer; just stopped and looked
across the stump, gave him a good cussing and said that he
ought to have had better sense in the first place than to try to
catch a greyhound.
After the fellow had gone, the friend came up to my father,
the sweat running down his neck, and panting like a lizard.
40 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
and said: "Jim, would you ah fo't that way for me?" My
father laughed and said : "No, Sam, I don't expect I would."
Sam seemed to think that by doing such a tall piece of
running to keep out of the fellow's way, that he had put up a
In referring back to happenings of the past, it recalls an-
other little amusing incident. One April the first (April fools'
day), my father was very busy trying to fool somebody; he
came in that morning, awhile before dinner, after being out
on the farm doing something, and said in a very surprised
manner: "Did you all know that Hue Campbell was dead?"
Of course, there hadn't anybody heard anything about it, and
didn't seem to inquire, so he went on out at something else.
After he had gone out, my mother said she would fix him.
He always preferred a plain cake of cornbread to any other
kind. So that furnished her with an opportunity to fool him.
She made him his kind of bread, with a thin crust on top and
bottom, and the middle all full of cotton. At dinner, when he
took a big bite of his choice bread, he got his mouth full of
cotton and all in between his teeth ; then he knew what had
He looked up rather foolish and grinned, and then said:
"Why, I never did say that Hue Campbell was dead; I only
asked you if you knew he was dead."
He had an old horse once that wasn't worth a dollar, that
he had taken in on a small debt ; he was very anxious to trade
him off, but he would not misrepresent a thing or lie in a horse
trade under any circumstances ; he would tell a horse's faults,
instead of just omitting that; so, therefore, he didn't have
much success in disposing of his valuable horse; but my
youngest brother and myself concluded ive could make a trade
or a sale, one or the other, as we were not quite so conscien-
tious as he was, and, of course, a boy wants to be a trader in
order to look as much like a man as possible.
One day an old negi-o came along and said that he heard
we had a horse to sell. That being our first opportunity to
make a display of our superior ability in trading, we began to
ELLIS LEE FIGG
THE NEW YORC j
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 41
point out the excellent features of the horse that our father
had given us permission to trade or sell. We showed the old
negro what a good shoulder and neck the horse had, and a fine-
looking head, too ; and his eyes both clear and bright, and, in
fact, he would be a nice-looking horse if he had a little flesh
on him ; true enough, his hip was a little knocked down and
he walked a little sideways, but what's that, when you are
getting a horse worth talking about?
The old negro listened contentedly to the flattering possi-
bilities of the wonderful horse, but he wanted to see him "wid
honness on." So we hitched him up by the side of another
horse to an empty slide, which is a thing that all farmers have
to haul fodder, etc., on, and we started. Mr. Horse did fine
as long as he was going down hill, but as soon as we started
up grade, and hadn't gone over five feet, he reared up and
fell back on the slide and closed his eyes, as if dead, and began
to groan like he was in great agony. The old negro took a
look at the valuable animal, then shook his head and said he
didn't believe he "zactly lack at kind of a hoss."
Boys all imagine that they could do wonderful things if
their parents would only turn them loose and give them a
chance, a country boy especially ; he imagines that he will be
President of the United States some day, and maybe some-
thing a little higher than that. Alexander the Great, that
lived several hundred years before Christ, used to weep when
he was a boy, because he thought there would be nothing for
him to do when he got to be a man ; thought everything great
would be finished before then. If he could only come back
today, and see what changes there have been since he was a
man, he would weep again, on account of what a fool he was.
SECTION 7 IN CHAPTER 4.
Warner T. Figg, Jr., first cousin of my father, when he
was a boy, used to hear fellows say that out West there were
trees that you could just walk up to and catch hold of a limb
and give it a shake and the big silver dollars would come rat-
42 SKETCHES -OF THE FIGG FAMILY
tling off and cover the ground like apples falling off the trees.
While he knew that couldn't be possible, yet he imagined there
must be something about the West that was exceedingly fasci-
nating. At any rate, he made up his mind to go and see. So
he started, walking. Fifty cents constituted the total amount
of capital he carried with him.
One day's walking West did him. He began to study how
he could get back home and what he could tell his father, so
he wouldn't get a thrashing. He heard of a fortune-teller near
by that could tell anything. So he decided that would be his
chance to find out all about it. The old fortune-teller took his
half-dollar and gave him the information desired. Most any-
body could have looked at him and told from his looks that he
had just run off from home and wanted to get back. So she
told him to go on hom.e, and that his father would be standing
at the front gate looking for him and would be in a good humor
and wouldn't even scold him. That made him feel good, so he
started for home. When he got in sight, sure enough, his
father was standing at the gate, with one foot propped up
against it, just as the fortune-teller had told him. As he
walked up his father said : "Good morning, son, where have
you been?" In order to make things look favorable, he told
his father that he had been learning the carpenters' trade.
The old man said : "Why, son, that is the very thing ; I am
exceedingly glad to hear it, for I need a one-horse hay rake
the worst kind, and I'll get you to make me one." Warner saw
he had made a mistake by telling he was a carpenter. But
when his father started him to making the thing, he knew he
had it to do, so he went at it, and I don't suppose there was
ever just another such a thing made, from his description, as
he didn't know much more about making a one-horse hay rake
than he would about reading a Chinese Bible.
After he finished the thing, his father looked at it and told
him to take it up to the front gate on the road and put up a
sign : "Rake Making Done Here."
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 43
SECTION 8 IN" CHAPTER 4.
Edward M. Figg, oldest brother of my grandfather, had
two sons, John T. and WilKam J., that left the farm. The
elder brother, John T., has been in the real estate business
most of his life and is, at the present writing. May, 1921, in
the business at Houston, Texas, He is 79 years old and is a
fine-looking man, being tall, and weighs over 200 pounds. He
has one son, Howard, who was a physician, but gave up his
practice to engage in the real estate business with his father.
But in 1920, I think it was, he was appointed by Palmer in
Washington City, special assistant to the Attorney General,
in the enforcement of the Lever law against profiteering, and
was in charge of food sales distribution during the war-time
extortion on high prices of things.
Howard Figg tells us that the manufacturers and jobbers
of wearing apparel were attempting to stampede retailers and^
the public into a renewed fictitious demand for clothing and
thereby force higher prices. He had charge of that depart-
ment that investigates things of that kind.
William J. Figg, brother of John T., and son of Edward M.
Figg, was elected Magistrate in Shelbyville, Ky., in 1913. He
ran on the Republican ticket, but on account of his compe-
tency and good citizenship, was elected by a large majority,
otherwise he would have been defeated, Shlbyville being
strictly a Democratic town, or v/as at that time at any rate.
Most of the Democrats gave him their votes.
In 1916, I think it was, he was appointed by Governor
Stanley (Democrat) as a Republican member of the State
Board of Control for Charitable Institutions, at a salary of
$2,500 per year, I believe it was. A number of prominent men
were applicants for the place, and when Governor Stanley an-
nounced the appointment of William J. Figg it was very much
of a surprise to the State, as his name was never mentioned in
He did not live long after his appointment, as he had kid-
ney trouble for a long time. He only lived a few days after
he returned to his home in Shelbyville, Ky., from Frankfort.
44 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
He was 55 years old, leaving a wife, who was Miss Rosa Tur-
ner, and a daughter, Miss Ola Logan Figg, a gi'aduate of the
University of Kentucky, and who taught school in Shelbyville,
but in September, 1919, began teaching at Park Cottage, Kan.
He was one of the finest bass singers I ever heard : had a voice
like a lion, and could be heard in any size audience very clearly
above all other voices.
He was a good, religious man and was a member of the
SECTION 1 IN CHAPTER 5.
Thus ends a very good sketch of the original three full
brothers, James, William and Seeli Figg, also the half brother,
John Figg, Jr., who came over from Virginia and settled in
Kentucky in 1800, with a colony of relatives, all of whom
settled near each other within five or six miles of Shelbyville,
in the southern part of the county, near where Olive Branch
Church now stands, all of the colony except John Figg, Jr.,
who settled over in Nelson County.
There is an old family (Taylor) burying ground, about one
and a half miles out a pike road, running east from the main
Shelbyville and Taylorsville turnpike; said pike road is about
five and a half miles south of Shelbyville, running east, a little
in the direction of Southville. There are tombstones that mark
the graves of William Taylor and his wife, Mary, and a few
SECTION 2 IN CHAPTER 5.
James Figg, the pugilist. The Figgs v/ere originally from
England and Wales. Many of their descendants, no doubt, are
still there, who never came over to this country. One of them,
James Figg, was very prominent in sporting circles, being the
first champion prizefighter of England. As was characteristic
of all the old-time Figgs, they were powerful men in strength.
While England has taken great delight in the pugilistic
sport for two or three hundred years, it doesn't seem to have
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 45
originated there, as the best information I have is that it was
ftrst practiced in Greece and Rome, but did not gain much
popularity till England began to admire the sport, and in 1719
James Figg, having won all the bare fist contests he engaged
in, declared himself champion of England.
He was greatly admired by the young English noblemen,
vrho would take delight in raising disturbances and then have
James Figg to back them up in it and whip the fellow they
started the racket with, while they would stand back and
The King kept him employed as an entertainer for his own
amusement and satisfaction. According to the information I
have, he was champion from 1719 to 1730, and there is no
record of his ever being defeated, and held the title till he died.
While I do not remember the exact rules under which
James Figg fought in 1719, j'^et he was the originator of the
mode of fighting that was used at that particular time. No
doubt they were more similar to the London Prize Ring Rules
that were used when John L. Sullivan became champion in
1882 than they were to the Queensbury rules; but all rules
have been changed and revised considerably.
There is a difference of opinion as to who wrote the
Queensbury rules in their revised form. The Marquis of
Queensbury (Marquis means a nobleman in England, next in
rank to a Duke, a title of honor) claims to have had something
to do with the writing of the rules, and others claim the au-
thorship. Nevertheless, here is about the substance of them :
The fighters are to use medium size new boxing gloves of
the best quality, and, should one burst or come off, it is to be
replaced, and they are to fight in about a 24-foot ring with
ropes around it ; and no one is allowed in the ring while the
contestants are in action ; and neither opponent is allowed to
strike the other while in a helpless position, such as lying on
the ropes or on his knees; should he do so, it is considered
sufficient grounds for the striker to lose the stakes. They are
not allowed to wrestle, but are required to stand up and fight
46 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
Each round consists of three minutes, and about a minute
between the rounds, and they are not allowed to wear springs
on their shoes. If a man is knocked down, he must be up and
ready to fight in ten seconds, otherwise he loses the fight, if
the referee so decides; if the contest is stopped by some inter-
ference, and not allowed to be finished, the referee is empow-
ered with the right to appoint another time and place to finish
the fight, unless the backers mutually agree otherwise.
There is a difference between the Queensbury and the Lon-
don prize ring rules, as the London rules are bare-knuckle
fighting and are in a smaller ring (about a 16-foot ring) and
are of a different style of fighting, and not so much ring
science, more of the brute strength and "rough-and-tumble"
fighting, which in reality shows up the best man, instead of
showing who can run and dart around the fastest. A bumble-
bee can whip an elephant by flying around and stinging him
once in a while.
A London prize ring round continues till one of the con-
testants is knocked down. A smart fellow, when he is about
exhausted, can fall on puii^ose, as that entitles him to thirty
seconds' rest before the next round begins. Frequently men
were whipped by the London prize ring mode of fighting with-
out ever being struck at all, as his opponent can slam him
around and fall on him with his knees, or any other way, to
win the fight.
Pugilists do not fight with bare knuckles any more. The
last fight of that kind was when John L. Sullivan whipped
Jake Kilrain, July 8, 1889, at Richburg Mills, Miss. They
fought 75 rounds.
Sullivan lost his title of championship three years after
that, when he fought James J. Corbett, at New Orleans, Sep-
tember 7, 1892. They fought 21 rounds. And, strange to say,
there never has been a champion, up to the present time, that
ever came to the front again after being once defeated.
Boxing gloves were invented about 1745 by Jack Brough-
ton, but the science of boxing began in 1719, when James Figg
became champion prizefighter of England. He opened up an
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 47
academy known as Figg's Amphitheater, in Tottenham Court
Road, which was the first boxing school opened in England.
The style of boxing has very much changed since then, as in
those days it was the best man physically that won, while now
it depends principally on who can dodge and get away the
quickest that stands the best chance to win.
SECTION 1 IN CHAPTER 6.
Consists of a little information about sales, etc., that might
be of interest to some one. Before the Civil War, which was
begun in 1861, and lasted four years, and was ended in 1865,
Negroes were slaves and v/ere bought and sold the same as
any other live stock. The prices varied. The market on them
fluctuated a little at different times, something similar to the
market on horses, hogs, cattle, sheep, etc. About the average
for the first-class ones was $1,500 ; common ones not so much;
the average price for first-class women was $1,200, and com-
mon ones about $950; the price for boys was from $900 to
$1,200, and girls averaged about $800; scrubs, not so much.
My father owned a good many slaves, but was kind to
them, as was evidenced from the fact that they remained with
him for three years after they were free, and were reluctant
about leaving even then.
The young generation of the present day think it strange
that human beings were slaves ; but there is nothing strange
about it, as it was a custom in those days. There never would
have been any trouble, or objections to the Negro being freed,
if the Government had paid the people for their property,
which belonged to them, the same as any other personal prop-
erty. If you come up to a man and tell him that you are going
to take away all he's got, and will not pay him anything for it,
don't you think he would have some slight objections? But if
you tell him you want to buy his property, that he has bought
and paid for himself, that is a very different proposition, so
that was the position the Southern man was in, when he didn't
want to give his slaves up ; true enough, they should have been
48 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
freed long before they were, but the owners should have been
paid for them, on the installment plan, if there was not enough
money to pay it all at once, as the war cost more than the buy-
ing of the slaves would have cost.
Perhaps in the distant future folks will forget and wonder
how land and stock were selling at the present time. Below I
will give you a little idea of how they sold at a Shelby County
sale in January, 1920 :
The Burnett and Figg Brothers farm of 343 acres was sold
yesterday. Tract No. 1, 227 acres, at $145.25 per acre; tract
No. 2, 116 acres, at $123 per acre; the average price per acre
was $137.73. Mules sold for from $240 to $310 each. Corn,
$11.10 per barrel. Fodder 53 cents a shock in the field.
Here is a duplicate of a country sale bill that might in-
terest some one :
PUBLIC SALE OF FARM, STOCK AND IMPLEMENTS.
On Tuesday, October 20, 1903, at 10 o'clock A. M., as ad-
ministratrix of the late James W. Figg, I will sell at public
auction, at his late residence, at Figg, Ky., the following :
The farm of said decedent, containing 100 acres of land, in
a good state of cultivation. Twenty-five acres will be sowed in
wheat before the sale; 25 acres for corn, and the balance in
grass, and is well watered. Improvements consist of a frame
dwelling of 8 rooms, barn and all necessarj^ outbuildings, all
in good repair.
Two good horses, both suitable for a lady to drive. Two
good Shorthorn cows. Buggy and harness. Farm wagon and
gear. Farming implements consist of plows, cultivator, har-
row, sled and numerous other things. All the household and
kitchen furniture will be sold.
TERMS: On real estate, one-third cash; balance in one
and two years, to suit purchaser.
TERMS : On personalty, made known day of sale.
Parties desiring further information about the farm can
call on Mrs. Margaret E. Figg, or E. L. Figg, on the place.
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 49
MRS. MARGARET E. FIGG,
Administratrix of J. W. Figg, deceased,
R. F. D. No. 5, Shelbyville, Ky.
C. G. Freeman, Auctioneer.
Also, here s a duplicate of my SALE BILL when I sold out
and left Shelby County, to move to this city, Louisville.
HOUSEHOLD AND KITCHEN FURNITURE,
FARM IMPLEMENTS, Etc.
Having sold my property, I will sell to the highest bidder
(nothing reserved) the following personalty, on
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13, 1915,
BEGINNING AT EXACTLY 12 :30 P. M.
1 Studebaker wagon, used but very little. 1 low-wheel
wagon, 3 buggies, slide, wheelbarrow, good Deering mowing
machine, 1 good hay rake, pitchforks, hoes, shovels, spades,
scoop, 1 set of wagon harness, used only a few times; plow
gear, buggy harness, check lines, side saddle, man's saddle, 1
large "A" harrow, 1 horse harrow, plows, ladders, scythes,
saws, axes, grindstone, grub hoes, pick, drill, crowbar, sledges^
post-hole diggers, 2 log chains, Elwood wire stretchers, 1 one-
man wire stretcher, double-trees, single-trees, several hundred
12-foot fence rails, stove wood already sawed in blocks, corn,
hay, sorghum, Irish potatoes, 2 milch cows fat enough for
beef, 1 Jersey heifer calf a month old, 1 farm mare in foal, no
better mare in the world ; 1 yearling Percheron stud colt, broke
to work, can't be beat ; 1 four-year-old stallion, Montezuma, if
not sold privately.
Evenings are short. Sale begins exactly at 12 :30.
TERMS : Ten months, without interest.
E. C. FIGG.
R. F. Do. No. 5, Shelbyville, Ky.
South of Olive Branch Church.
It is right interesting to attend public sales in the country,
as one sees and hears a great many things that are amusing.
I remeber being at my grandfather's sale, after he died, and
50 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
when they put the horses up to sell, the auctioneer told the
Negro who was attending to them to go ahead and tell the
people how old a black mare was that was being offered for
sale. The amusing part of it was the Negro had taken a few
drinks before he began showing the stock, and, as a conse-
quence, got some things considerably mixed. For instance:
The auctioneer said, "Now, Lewis, go ahead and tell the people
the age of that black mare." Lewis answered immediately
that she was just six years old exactly. Then said the auc-
tioneer : "Lev/is, tell the people whether she will work or not,
and is she a good plow mare?" Lewis quickly answered:
"Yes, she will work; shore she will work; I's been plowing
that mare for the last twenty years."
SECTION 2 IN CHAPTER 6.
Just for the benefit of the children, as grown people al-
ready know this, I will add a numeration which may be of
interest to some and to others it will not. Nevertheless, when
your teacher at school asks if any of you little Figgs can
numerate up to as high as a million, you can tell her that you
believe you can. It goes something like this :
Units, tens, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, hun-
dreds of thousands, millions, tens of millions, hundreds of
millions, billions, tens of billions, hundreds of billions, trillions,
tens of trillions, hundreds of trillions, quadrillions, tens of
quadrillions, hundreds of quadrillions, quintillions, tens of
quintillions, hundreds of quintillions, sextillions, tens of sex-
tillions, hundreds of sextillions, septillions, tens of septillions,
hundreds of septillions, octillions, tens of octillions, hundreds
of octillions, nonnillions, tens of nonnillions, hundreds of non-
nillions, decillions, tens of decillions, hundreds of decillions,
iindecillio7is, tens of undecillions, hundreds of undecillions,
duo-decillioiis, tens of duo-decillions, hundreds of duo-decill-
ions, tree-decillions, tens of tree-decillions, hundreds of tree-
decillions, quarto-decillions, tens of quarto-decillions, hundreds
of quarto-decillions, quin-decillions, tens of quin-decillions,
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 51
hundreds of quin-decillions, sex-decillions, tens of sex-decillions,
hundreds of sex-decilHons, septem-decillio'ns, tens of septem-
decilKons, hundreds of septem-decilhons, octo-decillioTis, tens
of octo-decilHons, hundreds of octo-decillions, novem-decillions,
tens of novem-decillions, hundreds of novem-decillions, decem-
decillions, tens of decem-decillions, hundreds of decem-decill-
ions, undecem-decillions , tens of undecem-decillions, hundreds
of undecem-decillions, duo-decem-decillions, tens of duo-decem-
decillions, hundreds of duo-decem-decillions, and so on, as
there is no end to it. But if you ever have dollars enough to
run up to hundreds of duo-decem-decillions, why that will be
sufficient to keep you awhile, and maybe by then you will draw
Also, here is a little counting in different languages that
might interest some of the boys or girls. True enough, I can-
not spell the numbers in English exactly like the foreigner
speaks them in his language, but I can come close enough to
it so you can count to a hundred almost right.
For instance, in the German numbers, "2" and "3," if
anybody can spell "two" the way the German speaks it, he can
beat me; also the number "three." There is no way to spell
it the way he speaks it, as he has a kind of warble or rattle
on his tongue when he says "three." Nevertheless, here goes
the German up to a hundred :
Ine, cwy, thry, feear, fimph, sex, sivon, octh, noin, chin,
illive, twilive, thrychin, feearchin, fimphchin, sexchin, sivon-
chin, octhchin, noinchin, sivansick (which is 20) ; then 21 is
ineswansick, 22 cwyswansick, 23 thryswansick, 24 is feear-
swansick, 25 fimphswansik, 26 is sexswansick, 27 sivonswan-
sick, 28 is octhswansik, 29 is noinswansick, 30 is thrysick, ine-
thrysick, cwythrysick, feearthrysick, fimphthrysick, sexthry-
sick, sivonthrysick, ocththrysick, nointhrysick is 39, and 40 is
feearsick, 50 in fimphsick, 60 in sexsick, 70 is sivasick, 80 is
octhsick, 90 noinsick, and 100 is hoonded; 1,000 is towsen, and
million is miWyon; the accent is on the last syllable, "yon,"
while we accent the first syllable, which is "mill."
52 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
Here is the Spanish way of counting. I have made accent
marks over the letter accented, the way the Spanish pronounce
Ouna, 1; does, 2; thras, 3; quah thro, 4 (let the tongue
v.'arble at the last syllable ; cinco, 5 ; sa es, 6 ; se etthe, 7 ; o'cho,
8; noo evy, 9; de es, 10; uncie, 11 ; doesie, 12; thrasie, 13; cat
torsie, 14 ; kenesie, 15 ; de s e saes, 16 ; de se etthe, 17 ; de se
echo, 18 ; de se noo evy, 19 ; vane ta, 20 ; vane ta ouna, 21
vane ta does, 22 ; vane ta thras, 23 ; vane ta quahthro, 24
vane ta cinco, 25; vane ta sa es, 26; vane ta sa etthe, 27
vane ta ocho, 28; vane ta noo evy, 29, and thra enta is 30
thra enta ouna, 31; thra enta does, 32; thra enta thras, 33
thra enta quahthro, 34 ; thra enta cinco, 35 ; thra enta saes,
36 ; thra enta se etthe, 37 ; thra enta ocho, 38 ; thra enta
nooevy, 39 ; quad enta, 40 ; quad enta ouna, 41 ; quad enta does,
42; quad enta thras, 43-; quad enta quad thro, 44; quad enta
cinco, 45 ; quad enta sa es, 46 ; quad enta se etthe, 47 ; quad
enta ocho, 48 ; quad enta nooevy, 49 ; cinco enta is 50, sa centa
is 60, sa tenta 70, ochinta 80, no venta 90, se en is 100, and
mil, pronounced like "mill," is 1,000; does mil, 2,000; thras
mil, 3,000; quah thro mil, 4,000; cinco mil, 5,000; sa es mil,
6,000 ; se etthe mil, 7,000 ; ocho mil, 8,000, and so on the same
as before. You can refer back and see what the figures are
all called. Million is pronounced "millyon;" the accent is on
the last syllable, which is "yon," but we accent the first, which
Also here is the Spanish alphabet the way they pronounce
their letters. I have accent marks over the letter accented.
There are 27 letters in their alphabet, while ours have 26.
Their "L" is called "aley;" then it is followed by "LL,"
which is called "ayea," and that makes the extra letter.
I took my pronunciation of the alphabet from a Spaniard
I used to work with. Whereas the Spanish book spells it a
little different, in spelling some of the letters, to the way I do,
nevertheless, I give them to you as near as I can ; the way the
Spaniard speaks them from his tongue.
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY &
Ah is a, and bay is b, and say is c ; day — d ; a — e ; eff ay — ^f
hay — g ; atchie — h ; ee — i ; hauta — j ; kahyah — k ; aley — 1
ayea — 11; emmay — m; ennay — n; auh — o; pay — p; coo — q
ettery — r; essay — s; tay — t; oo — u (like the word coo)
vay — ^v ; double ou — w ; eck ee se is x ; egre a ger — y ; setta — z.
The book spells the letter "z" thai-dah, but the Spaniard
that I got my information from spelled it "setta" and pro-
nounced it "setta." Also in the letter "y" the Spaniard pro-
nounces it "e gre a ger," but I noticed in the book that the
letter "y" is called "ee," like in the word "me." Also in the
letter "x" the Spaniard pronounces it "eck ee se," whereas the
book has it "eeks" for "x."
The little information just given is not intended to make a
Spanish scholar out of you, but is merely intended to amuse
the children and give them some idea, as to how the different
Here is the French alphabet, which contains 25 letters.
There is no "w" in their alphabet. Also I could give you the
numbers as to how to count in French, but I could not spell
them so you could understand them, consequently will leave
Ah is a, and bay is b; say — c; day — d; air — e; eff — f
jay — g; ash — h; the "i" is pronounced "e;" jee is "j ;" kah — k
ell — 1; m — m; n is n, and o is o; pay — p; ku — q; heir — r
ez — s ; tay — t ; eeyu — u, but I can't spell it like the Frenchman
speaks it; vay — v; ecks — x; egrec — y; zed — z.
Here is about the way the Latin numbers run up to a hun-
dred: Unus, duo, trees, quarto, quinque, sex, septem, octo,
novem, decern, undecem, duo decem, tree decem, quarto decem,
quin decem, sex decem, septem decem, octo decem, novem
decem; viginta, which is 20; viginta unus, 21 ; viginta duo, 22;
viginta trees, 23; viginta quarto, 24; viginta quinque, 25;
viginta sex, 26 viginta septem, 27; viginta octo, 28; viginta
novem, 29; triginta is 30; quadroginto, 40; quinqueginta, 50;
sexiginta, 60; septuaginta, 70; octoginta, 80; nonoginta, 90;
54 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
SECTION 1, CHAPTER 7.
My life and occupations have been various. I have been in
many different places and followed numerous occupations.
In May, 1883, at the age of 20, went to Girard, Kansas;
worked in a brickyard till fall, then engaged in coal mining
for the winter, at Pittsburg, Kan., which was twelve miles
from Girard; after which I came back in this direction, to
Pierce City, Mo., to visit the lead mines; then went to Van-
buren, Ark., through the Ozark Mountains, which is a very
interesting scenery, being rugged and steep. Vanburen is
just across the Arkansas River from Fort Smith, but is not as
thriving a town. Fort Smith is on the line between Arkansas
and what used to be the Indian Territoiy, but is Oklahoma
now. Fort Smith is next to the largest city in the State, Little
Rock, the capital, being the largest.
I used to see Indian squaws carrying their babies, tied to a
plank, and swung across their shoulders, and when they would
stop at a depot, or anywhere else, they would set the plank up
against the wall, and the baby would never whimper. Just
imagine one of our women setting their babies up against the
wall, tied to a plank! What would be the consequences? Why
you could hear the thing squall for a mile, and it would take
her three days to pacify it.
After working in the country awhile, near Vanburen, I
decided to go to Dallas County, Texas; worked awhile in a
daily, then concluded to raise a crop of cotton on the halves
for a farmer in Dallas County ; raised the cotton all right, and
twelve acres of corn ; raised fifteen bales of cotton (500 pounds
constitutes a bale) and got $45 a bale, but that was an un-
fortunate year, for when it began to rain it seemed it would
never cease, and when it did finally quit, it seemed that it had
One of the peculiarities of the black, waxy soil in Texas is
when it is muddy it is next to impossible to walk in it. The
mud sticks together like tar and gets so heavy that you cannot
raise your feet. The people have to carry a little paddle in
their pockets to clean the mud off their feet. Chickens will
THE AUTHOR AT 20 YEARS OF AGE, WHEN A COAL MINER
i VHS 'AVK rvi;:iC
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 55
get into the mud sometimes, and can't get out till somebody
takes them out. I have seen empty wagons on the side of the
road, where the driver unhitched his horses and left the wagon
till the mud got in better condition so they could proceed. The
mud on the front wheels and hind wheels would sometimes
meet, and the horses couldn't pull the empty wagon. Another
peculiarity about the black, waxy soil in Texas is, the roads in
extremely dry seasons, where it doesn't rain for months, will
become hard and slick, but there is never a speck of dust.
Out in the pastures, during very dry seasons, which occur
most every year, the ground will crack open so that it is dan-
gerous for stock to run, lest they step in the large holes and
break their legs. Sometimes holes will crack open large enough
to put an eight-foot rail down in them. But, after all, the soil
is very fertile. Some of that black, waxy land is ten feet deep
and is as black and rich at the bottom as it is at the top.
After leaving Dallas County, about the 1st of December,
1884, went to Fort Worth, which was then a very small town,
although it was the county seat of Tyrant County. There was
not a street car track in town. A company, however, was just
preparing to start a car line. I put in my application to drive
a car, before they laid the track, which would have been oper-
ated by mule power, as that was before electric cars were ever
thought of. They told me that there were fifty applicants
ahead of me, but to come around when they got the track laid,
and if none of the other fellows "showed up" they would give
me the job. I never went back to see about it, so they may
still be holding the job for me.
Strange to say, when I was in Foi*t Worth the first time,
men were out on a strike at the depot and other places of labor.
In twenty years after that, I was in Fort Worth again, and
there was another big strike in full blast, but this time it was
Armour & Co.'s stock yards, which was not there twenty years
before, and my! what a change there was in the place in
twenty years' time — from a little one-horse town to a big,
noisy city. I couldn't see anything that I recognized. It
seemed that everything had made a complete change. There
56 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
used to be a saloon there called the "Cowboy" saloon, and it
was true to its name. The cowboys would ride into the saloon
on their horses up to the bar and call for whisky, and when
they would get ready to go they would frequently shoot all the
lights out before they left.
When I left Forth Worth I went out a little farther West
and farmed one year with an Irishman, who had a good deal
of land. I'll never forget the first meal I ate with them. They
had fried chicken for dinner, and when we sat down to the
table I noticed the old man's wife laid a stick of stove wood on
the floor by her side ; but I didn't think much about it ; thought
perhaps she just had it to scare the dogs and cats out that
might come in while we were eating. I noticed, too, a tall,
slim-legged, freckled-faced, red-headed boy, with hair about
six or eight inches long, hanging around, not a great ways off
from the table. Every once in a while the old lady would say,
rather commandingly, "Johnnie, get away from this table."
But Johnnie didn't mind well. He would start to go, but didn't
go. All at once, like an eagle darting down after its prey, he
made one leap and grabbed down in the middle of the chicken
dish, and went out at the door with his hands full.
He looked back as he made his final exit and exclaimed :
"By Dod, I'm goin' to have one piece!" I understood then all
about what the stick of wood was for, as the old lady sent it
with vengeance through the air, but missed her mark far and
wide. The last I saw of Johnnie, he was going over the stile
blocks at the yard fence, cutting down on his chicken. The
old lady waved her hand at him in considerable anger and
called him a dirty-looking thing, but, nevertheless, the chicken
was gone and so was Johnnie.
I stayed with them all that year, and when Christmas came
they had a regular Irish jubilee — the whole "shooting match"
got drunk. A two-gallon kettle sat on the kitchen table, full
of egg-nog, highly flavored with something that is hard to buy
now. The directions for taking it was: One glassful every
few minutes, or oftener, if necessary. I took one glassful, but
didn't consider it necessary to take any more for some time.
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 57
The old man had two of his boys out on the floor, with rags
tied over their hands for boxing gloves. He called one of them
Paddy Ryan and the other one John L. Sullivan, and when
John L. Sullivan would get Paddy Ryan down the old man
would pull him off till Paddy could get up again.
On Sunday, during the Christmas, the old folks went visit-
ing and left their boys all at home. There was a little sugar
left over from the jubilee, in a paper sack laid way back some-
where, and one of the boys proposed to eat it, but I objected,
saying that his mother would be very angry at us for eating
her sugar, as she might need it for something, but he overruled
my objections in a very few words, as his reply was, "Oh,
h — 11, she'll never miss it till next Christmas. We don't have
sugar but once a year."
In Texas there used to be a great many race horses (what
they called race horses) among many of the farmers. The
man I was with was a race horse man, and he, knowing that I
was from Kentucky, insisted on me riding his horse in one of
his races. I declined to accept his compliments by saying that
I never saw a race horse, much less ride one, but the more I
refused the more he insisted, as he seemed to think that every-
body from Kentucky was a natural-born race rider. Finally I
told him that if nothing else would do him, I would ride his
horse, which I did. The horse made one leap when he started,
and made it so suddenly and unexpected to me, that I tumbled
off as soon as he started, but the horse went on without a rider
and won the race.
While in Texas I came across a grindstone quarry, where
i could see the rocks sticking out just above the surface, enough
to see what they were. I immediately thought I had found a
fortune, and maybe no one else around there knew anything
about grindstone rock; kept it to myself a few days before
mentioning it to anyone, but one day I asked a fellow whether
he ever saw any grindstone rock growing in the ground. He
said, "Why, that's nothing; all the ground around here is full
of grindstone rock." Then my air castles that I had built as
58 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
to how I was going to make a fortune out of those rocks all fell
In Brownsville, Texas, at that day and time, it looked to me
that every business house there of any size was built out of
grindstone rock. You could just walk up by the side of a
house anywhere and sharpen your knife. Also, there was an-
other interesting thing in that section of the country; there
Vv'as so much petrified wood in certain portions of the State.
Whenever wood petrifies under the ground it will take its
color from the soil in which it petrifies ; if the soil is red, the
stone will be of a reddish color; if its gray, the stone will be
gray, and so on.
Once, when in Shreveport, La., several years ago, I was in
an old cemetery; a portion of it, from some cause, evidently
had been neglected for many years; in that part of it was a
good deal of petrified wood from trees that had blown dovvTi,
or been chopped down, and left lying on the ground, and a
portion of them petrified ; on one of them it could be seen
where some one had chopped into it with an axe before it
1 noticed a very familiar name on a monument in the nice
part of the cemetery, with the inscription, "Joseph B. Smith,
born in Shelby County, Kentucky." When I returned to Ken-
tucky, some time after that, I asked an old gentleman whose
surname was the same, whether he ever heard of Joseph B.
Smith, of Shreveport, La., he said, "Why, that's my oldest
brother." I gave him a piece of petrified stone that I had'
gotten in the cemetery, in which his brother was buried, and
he seemed to appreciate it very much.
I remember once, when in the northern part of Texas, I
concluded it would be a nice trip to ride down through the
State on horseback to the Gulf of Mexico ; bought a good saddle
horse and started, but the distance was too far, and I soon got
tired of the trip ; went as far down as Austin, the capital, then
took a bee line westward; finally got out so far west that it
began to look very much like there wasn't anybody else there
but me. That was in 1885, when Western Texas was very
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 59
thinly populated. I rode a half a day without ever seeing a
human being, house or anything else, except a deer once in
nwhile, and hear the wolves howling over the hills, like a
lonesome dog, and a mule-eared rabbit run across the road
occasionally. And whenever I couldn't find any place to stay
at night, I woud lie down on the ground and tie my horse to
me with a long rope (such as all Texas fellows used to carry
with them, tied on their saddle), so the horse could graze
around, and build a little fire by me to keep the wolves from
eating me, as a wolf will not come up to a fire, no matter how
small ; just so he can see a speck of it, that's enough for him.
On one occasion, after I had been riding over half a day
without seeing anyone, I met a fellow just after it had begun
to get a little dark, going in the same direction from which I
had just come. I asked him how far it was to the next house.
He said it was just fifteen miles on farther before I would
come to a house. It was then getting dark, and there had
come up what they call out there "a norther," which is a cold
blizzard. The wind had begun to blow hard and snow was
falling, but he told me that there was a sheep-herder's camp
about a mile and a half on farther, at which I could stay, if I
could find it, as it was a little off the road. I started on at a
pretty lively gait, when all at once I saw a lantern flash out
for a second or two. I made right for that direction, but I
suppose my horse would have gone up to the camp anyhow, if
I would have let the reins loose. They treated me very kindly,
which is characteristic with most of the Westerners.
I stayed a week with the Montgomery brothers, who at that
day and time, which was in 1885, had one pasture for their
cattle that was sixty miles around it ; a square pasture fifteen
miles each way, enclosed in a barbed wire fence, three wires
high, I think it was, and it was the duty of someone, once
every day, to ride around the pasture to see if any of the
wires had been cut, which sometimes would happen, by ene-
mies or somebdy just for pure devilment. In riding around
on the inside of the pasture they would just keep in sight of
the fence, in order to make the distance around shorter. After
60 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
I stayed a week with them, and they also kept my horse, too,
and fed him all he could eat, I asked what my bill was; but
they wouldn't have a cent for it ; all they asked was, they said,
that if I ever had an opportunity, for me to treat them with
the same courtesy that I had received.
Pastures in those days in Western Texas consisted alto-
gether of prairie grass; no other grass will thrive in Texas
that I know of, except prairie grass, Johnson grass and Ber-
muda grass ; it is almost impossible to get rid of the last two
mentioned ; but prairie grass, when once broken up and turned
over, will never come again. It has no seed, and if one furrow
is run around a field with a plow, that broken space will never
sod itself over again with prairie grass, as when once broken
it is killed forever ; but here in Kentucky, if a piece of ground
is let alone for a few years and stock allowed to run on it, the
blue grass will sod it over without ever sowing any seed.
I never saw but one patch of clover in Texas, and that was
in a four-acre bottom field where the soil kept sufficiently
moist for it to grow, Texas is too dry for clover ; it cannot
stand long drouths. Peaches do well in Texas, but no apples ;
never saw an apple tree in Texas; although there are a few
in the State, but very few. There is something in the soil that
kills apple trees ; I don't know what it is ; some say that there
is too much alkali in the soil.
There are many different kinds of soil in Texas, which
consists of black waxy, black sandy, gray sandy, Brazos River
loam and several other kinds.
In January, 1886, I returned to Kentucky, stopping to see
the Hot Springs, in Arkansas, and the Mammoth Cave, in
Kentucky, two very noted places. The town of Hot Springs is
a long strip of a town between two mountains. The water of
the Hot Springs tastes something like tea, and it is very hot,
caused, of course, by water in the earth passing through certain
mineral, which, when they come in contact, becomes boiling
hot, like when water is poured on unslaked lime, it immedi-
ately begins to boil and would cook an egg while the lime is
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 61
I heard of two fellows that were traveling through that
country, years before it was settled, and they stopped to get
a drink at the spring. When it burnt one fellow's mouth, he
told the other to drive on, as they were only half a mile from
There are other mineral springs in that neighborhood be-
sides the Hot Springs. There are the Happy Hollow Springs
and the Potash Sulphur Springs, two popular places to go and
spend your surplus money, as that is what they all are looking
for — the dollar that you have.
The Mammoth Cave is right interesting to one who has
never seen anything of the kind, but not so much so, perhaps,
as you would expect to see, from the fact that in reading about
a thing it can be pictured very deceivingly to the mind. There
isn't hardly anything as wonderful after we see it as we im-
agined it was. The scenery in the Mammoth Cave reminds
one of being in coal mines, different, of course, yet there is
After returning to Kentucky, in 1886, I taught school one
session, farmed one year, and then went to Indiana and helped
a man put in fifteen acres of watermelons on the Six-mile
Island, above Louisville. He was a very peculiar man and ex-
tremely hard to get along with. One day he started me to
raking up cornstalks that had been cut down ; raking with an
old one-horse rake. When he started me to the field he said,
in a very rough manner : "Figg, a hired hand hasn't got any
more sense than a mule, and is not supposed to have any sense ;
you take that mule and go out yonder and rake them stalks
up." I didn't dispute with him regarding the necessity of
using judgment in the way of work, but went on, "me and the
mule." Nevertheless, I thought to myself: Old man, you'll
find out different from that when you come home from town
and see what "me and the mule" have done.. I was young and
foolish then and didn't like my job anyway, and felt just a
little offended at the idea of not having any more sense than a
mule, esiDecially the one he gave me to work. When I got the
darn mule started, I couldn't get it stopped ; and when I got it
stopped, I coudn't get it started. Nevertheless, I raked over
62 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
the stalks without ever dumping- the rake; just dragged them
along. When he got back from town he came out to see how
"me and the mule" were getting along. He stood and looked
I'or some time before he said anything, but after awhile he
said: "Well, Figg, what did you do me that way for?" Then
I reminded him of what he said when he started me to work —
that a hired hand didn't have any more sense than a mule and
wasn't supposed to have any sense. So I told him that the
mule didn't have sense enough to dump the rake, and neither
did I. I thought he would discharge me, but he didn't. He
just turned around, walked off and said : "Well, Figg, I didn't
think you would do me that way."
On November 1, 1888, I began with the Louisville City
Railway Company. Electric cars were not thought of then;
they used mule cars. But the next year, 1889, or 1890, I have
forgotten which, the first electric line was started on Green
street, and went out as far as Twenty-eighth street, the best
It was March 27, 1890, while I was with the Railway Com-
pany, that the most destructive cyclone that was ever known
in the State passed through Louisville. I will give you a little
poem that some one wrote about it, on another page in this
SECTION 2, CHAPTER 7.
After being with the Railway Company for two years I
went to Shelby County, eight miles south of Shelbyville, and
bought a country store from P. W. Torr. My father owned
half interest in the goods. Began merchandising November 1,
1890, and on July 1, 1891, established a post-office there and
named it Figg, and was the neighborhood postmaster for
eleven years. Then the post-office was discontinued, as the
rural free delivery system superseded most all country post-
offices. The office did not pay very much, but it brought cus-
tomers to the store that in many cases would perhaps never
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 63
At that time all the turnpikes in the State were owned by
individuals in each county, and they had tollgates about a mile
and a half out each road from the county seat town, which
was a long pole that reached across the pike, and was kept
down, only when the gatekeeper would raise it to let people
through, after they paid him the toll, and that made trade in
the country stores a little better, as some people would rather
trade at home then than to go to town and have to pay toll to
get there. All the turnpikes in the State have been sold to the
counties in which they were in. They have been sold several
years now. It was perhaps 1896, the best I remember, when
they began selling the pikes and removing the tollgates, so the
people can go through free, and the expenses of the pikes are
kept up now by taxation, instead of individual collections.
My grandfather, Warner T. Fi gg, Sr., was one of the orig-
inal stockholders of the Zaring Mill turnpike, south of Shelby-
ville. Before he died he gave his turnpike stock to his son,
Bushrod, who kept it till the pikes were sold to the county.
I remember once going through a tollgate, north of town,
one Sunday evening, and there was an old Irish woman keep-
ing it. I asked her if she knew whether one of the neighbor
men was at home or not and that I was going out there and
wanted to see him. She told me she guessed he was, as he
hadn't passed through the tollgate that day. Then I asked if
Mary had passed through. The old lady "kinder" squinted
one eye up and said : "Ah, me boy, and it was the gairl you
wanted to see!" And sure enough, it was.
I owned the country store for twenty-five years, but during
the time rented it out and went to Fort Smith, Arkansas. I
was married then and had two small children, one of them a
baby. Bought half interest in a saloon, rooming house and
restaurant, all combined as one business. We took in over
$1,000 a month during the year. The register showed over
$12,000 cash taken in, but the business was not a success, as
the partner was a lady's man, a drunkard and a gambler, and
was dishonest ; so that kind of a combination was detrimental
to success. I felt just a little out of place all the time, not hav-
ing been accustomed to associations of that kind. Neverthe-
64 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
less, I learned a great deal about the other side of things that
perhaps otherwise I would never have known, and perhaps
would have been just as well off without ever knowing them.
Many amusing incidents happened during the year, watch-
ing the drunkard's antic movements and listening to his idiotic
songs, some of which were very amusing, while others were
disgusting. We had a restaurant in the rear of the saloon,
also a dining-room upstairs, where we delivered meals and
drinks to the "ladies," and still another on the first floor, to
itself, for the colored population, making three eating depart-
One day a crowd of Irish came into the saloon, and one of
them left $60 with us to keep for him, till their crowd drank it
up. In two weeks his $60 were gone. Not one of them would
take a drink till they looked around to see if all their number
were lined up and ready.
One day Tommie Simmons was missing, and when their
leader looked around and saw that Tommie was gone he gave
the command for "not a mon to take a dthrink till Tommie is
with us." Paddy O'Simerty went back into the restaurant
and found Tommie reared back in a chair, sound asleep. He
gave him a few familiar shakes and said : "And Tommie, and
are you going to schlape your howl loife away? Wake oope
and take a dthrink, and be keerful, Tommie, gist how yer
walk, as the mon's house may fall down with yer."
Tommie was very much surprised when awakened, and
wanted to know if it was daytoim yit.
We had an old German customer that I never saw sober.
He slept in a coalshed one night when he was drunk and rolled
around over the coal, and the next morning he was a beautiful
looking sight to see. The police took charge of him, and, when
he was brought out for trial, Judge Fraer, who was a nice
man, if you talked to him right, asked him what on earth was
the matter with his face. The old Dutchman said to him:
"Vy, dot ish mine face, and dot ish mine business." "Well,"
said Fraer, "I'll just fine you $15 for having such a face."
One day the old Dutchman was in the saloon, and after
taking a few swallows of the "overjoy," started back to the
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 65
restaurant, but every time he would start to walk he would go
sideways and hit the wall. Then he would start again and
run sideways and land right back to where he started. Finally
he looked up to me and said: "Mishther, your housh is too
schmall." Once in a while he would sing* his favorite song,
which ran something like this: "Mine mutter she sade, dar
vosh someting wrong mit mine prain." It was a very beauti-
ful song, but he evidently had left his tune back in Germany,
as he didn't have it with him here.
We had a good many Indian customers from the Indian
Territory, which is the State of Oklahoma now, Fort Smith
being on the line between the two States.
An Indian asked me once if I could find him a white wife.
I told him that I thought I could and for him to be seated in
the reception room and I would go and see. I went to see a
young lady, a grass widow, whose mother was also a widow;
she was not at home when I got there, but the mother said the
girl had gone uptown to see about getting a divorce. I ex-
plained my business to the mother, who was very anxious for
the match. She told me where the girl was, and if her daugh-
ter would not marry the Indian, for me to come back and let
her know, and that she would take him.
I saw the young lady and told her what I wanted. She was
H'illing to marry the Indian and told me to go back and have
him wait for her, as she had to go home and primp up a little.
The Indian waited till the girl came, and an introduction was
made between them. Everything was going along all right.
Arrangements were being made for the marriage, and the
Indian said he would pay for her divorce and they would get
married right away. But unfortunately, right in the midst of
their two hearts being made as one, a fellow came in that she
hadn't seen for some time, and the temptation was too great
for her, so she turned around to offer him a few kind words
of welcome. Then Mr. Indian quietly arose and said he would
be back in a few minutes, but he never came back.
After being in Fort Smith, Ark., one year, I went to
Shreveport, La., in February, 1904, through Indian Territory,
6G SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
now Oklahoma, where I attended a business college a few
months, preparatory to taking up the study of law. After fin-
ishing the business course in Shrevei^ort I conducted a grocery
awhile before leaving; then went to Dallas, Texas, and took
up the study of law, but got tired of it and quit; concluded it
was foolishness for a man with a wife and two children to
begin a thing of that kind, when he already had a farm and a
store, back in Kentuck}^ rented out.
The northern part of Louisiana is a great place to raise
watermelons. We passed through a patch, just over the line
in Louisiana from Texas, that contained 600 acres. It was
shipping time when we passed through on the train, and just
as far as we could see were watermelons piled up ready to be
shipped. They were striped melons, of the rattlesnake variety.
The same ground was set out in peach trees, and the melons
were raised between the trees while they were small. It was
also beneficial to the trees to cultivate the ground. We had
an opportunity to buy one of the melons at the hotel where we
stopped; had picking choice of any melon we wished for five
cents. I picked out the biggest one in sight and planked down
the cash for it, which was a nickel.
While reading law in Dallas I had a little business that
brought in about enough change to make expenses.
After leaving Dallas I returned home, to Shelby County,
Kentucky, to the store that had been rented out, and began
merchandising again. It is only in the rarest of cases where
it is best to make many changes in business of any kind.
Specialization is advisable. Pick out some kind of work
or business and stick to it. There are advantages and disad-
vantages in every place in the world. It figures out about the
same, so make a selection of what you want to do and stay
with it till the "last rooster crows" and you'll be better off in
The old adage, that "a rolling stone gathers no moss," is
a very true one. It doesn't mean to sit down and wait till it
rains prosperity; keep hustling, but stay in one place, unless
you can foresee the future of your new venture clearly. When
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 67
James J. Corbett began his pu^listic career his father, who
was an Irishman, quoted the "rolling stone" theory to him.
But after he whipped John L. Sullivan the old man changed
his mind a little and said : "Ah, and Jimmie, it is the hustling
bee that gathers in the honey."
In connection with the country store in Shelby County, I
had a blacksmith shop and 75 acres of ground, which made a
very nice little farm ; also had a fine orchard.
Farming in connection with the store was very profitable,
raising stock, etc. I owned three stallions at different times.
Their names were Sweet Peas, Mignonette and Montezuma.
Bought Sweet Peas when a weanling colt in the fall of 1896,
and sold him for $400 in 1902, when he was six years old, at
a time when the price of horses was very low. The purchaser
took him to Illinois, kept him one year, then traded him for a
farm, and afterwards sold the farm for $5,000, so I heard.
Evidently I didn't know the value of the horse, or the other
simpleton didn't know the value of his farm, one or the other.
I bought Mignonette when three years old for $250, kept
him two years and sold him. I raised Montezuma, and sold
him when four years old at public auction, January 13, 1915.
I sold all my property in January, 1915, came to Louisville
and took a course at a barber college, and started one of my
own, about March, 1915, on Market street, near Floyd; kept
it one year, then sold it to the Tri-City Barber College. They
made a proposition for each one to set a price on his business
and one to buy the other out, as in their judgment Louisville
was not big enough for two colleges.
All barber colleges were losing money at that particular
time, on account of the increase in wages, and young men were
joining the army and very few wanted to learn the barber
trade. Each set a price. He accepted mine and bought me
out, with the understanding that I would not start another
college in Louisville.
Then I bought a grocery at Sixth and Broadway, this city ;
kept it one year and sold it; started another one up on East
Market and sold it, then worked in a jewelry store awhile on
68 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
the corner of Fourth and Market, where Hauger now has a
clothing store. When the jewehy firm discontinued business
here and went to Chicago, I concluded to do painting work;
followed that till the Government started building Camp Tay-
lor, Prices for carpenters were attractive, $5.50 for the first
five days of the week and $7.50 for Saturdays and $10 on
Sunday. I immediately became a carpenter. There was such
a demand for mechanics that they didn't question a man's
ability and his knowledge of scientific carpenter work. All
that was necessary was to look ivise and have a few carpenter
After Camp Taylor was finished I went to Newport News,
Va., with a carpenter foreman, who was getting up a crew
of men and needed another man to finish out his number.
There were two big camps to be built in Newport News. We
left Louisville September 13, 1917, on Thursday evening, at 6
o'clock, and arrived there on Saturday night, but our foreman
didn't go out to the camp till Monday morning, so there was
Sunday we were to be idle.
In our crowd was a young fellow, a Presbyterian preach-
er's son, a Mr. McQueene. He and I concluded we would go
out to the camp ourselves and work that Sunday, as it meant
$10 apiece for us; we couldn't resist the temptation, so we
went out, walked up to the employment office, where there was
a considerable line of men all applying for work. We heard
him ask each man in front of us if he was a first-class carpen-
ter, if not, he would be discharged as soon as found out. That
was bad news for us, so we stepped out of the line to hold a
little consultation between ourselves. I didn't see how we
could go up against that first-class carpenter business, as that
word didn't strike us very favorably. But that $10 apiece we
couldn't stand to miss, so we braced up courage and concluded
to try it a rap, as they couldn't do any more than turn us off,
and, besides, we would have a little money coming to us any-
how. We were only going to work that day, to get the $10 ;
then Monday morning we would go with our regular foreman
that we went with from here.
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 69
I told the young fellow that was with me that he could lie
a little better than I could and for him to take the lead. So
we walked up to the window, and when the question was asked
as to whether we were first-class carpenters, my young friend
straightened himself up and told the employer that he never
did anything in his life but fine finishing work, and if he
couldn't do anything that was to be done out there, or anywhere
else, he would eat the job. Tlien he turned around toward me
and said to the employer : "Here is my partner; he's just like
me." So we got the job, and also the $10. Then we laughed
at the rest of our crowd the next morning as to how we got
ahead of them, but I couldn't help thinking about my friend,
the preacher's son. Every once in awhile I would think to
myself: Heavens of earth, what a lie! We roomed and
boarded at the camps where we worked. Met a good many
different kinds of people. Some would have prayer every night
before retiring, while others would shoot craps, play cards
and swear. We slept on cots. I always arranged to have my
cot next to the fellow that said his prayers, if it was conveni-
ent, as I thought maybe some of the other fellows might steal
the buttons off my shirt after I got to sleep.
They had water carriers to bring us water while we were
at work. One of the carriers was a red-headed, freckled-faced
boy, quiet and pleasant in his manners, and didn't have much
to say. One evening, after the work for the day was done, a
great many who boarded in town were crowding on the trucks
to ride. In the crowd was the little red-headed water carrier.
Somehow his foot slipped when trying to get on after the
truck had begun to move, and he fell under a wheel. It passed
over his body, all that big load of men in the heavy truck. He
didn't die till the next day. When they started to the hospital
with him he said : "Don't take me to the men's hospital; I'm
In working at various kinds of work, in different parts of
the country, one comes in contact with many different hap-
penings. Some are sad, some are amusing, and some things
appeal to our anger. So that's the way it goes.
70 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
I had occasion one day to go back behind some boxes,
where I was working, to see about something, and way back,
where he couldn't be seen, sat a colored gentleman, taking a
rest. I said to him: "You have a pretty good job, haven't
you?" He "kinder" grinned and said: "Oh, well, yes; I
should say I is ; I don't has to wuck hod like you white folks."
Then I said to him : "Jim, suppose some of them big fellows
were to happen around while you are 'setten' there taking it
easy, what would you do?" "Well," was his reply, "if dey
don't lacks my way ob transacken business, dey can hab de
job." And perhaps they would.
After both camps at Newport News were about finished
they discharged several hundred men one morning, and I was
one of the number, but before leaving I went all around the
surrounding country merely to see how it looked, etc. One
Sunday I walked over to. Hampton, Va., which was twelve
miles, I think, from Newport News, just to see the sights;
preferred walking to riding. But in coming back I very much
preferred riding to walking. In going over I saw country
roads that were made of oyster shells, and some of the roads
were ten or fifteen miles in length. Saw oyster shells at a big
oyster house in Hampton that were piled up as high as a
three-story building. It was done by machinery, of course.
The oysters had been taken out and the shells piled up, ready
to be sold to the county and the farmers to put on the country
roads, and also for making lime, fertilizer, etc.
It is right interesting to visit Ocean View, a pleasure re-
sort on the ocean, not far from Norfolk, Va., and watch the
ocean waves dashing up against the shores, backward and
forward, like they were mad about something.
The ocean is never still ; the waves are always dashing and
splashing up against the shore for several feet.
All the Atlantic Coast States, from Maine to Florida, are
pine timbered country, but the government destroyed thou-
sands of acres of pine timber to do their construction work,
etc., that was necessary during the World War, which was
begun in Europe in 1914 between Austria-Hungary and Serbia,
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 71
over little or nothing, something about killing a Prince; but
this country didn't declare war till April 6, 1917, and the first
division of our soldiers went over June 14, 1917. The armis-
tice, however, was signed November 11, 1918, at 11 o'clock
a. m. Armistice merely means a temporary suspension of hos-
tilities by agreement of the parties.
After the two camps at Newport News, Va., were finished
I went to Jacksonville, Fla., where there was a camp being
built; arrived there Thanksgiving Day, 1917; had Thanks-
giving turkey for dinner. Jacksonville is overrated ; it was a
shabby looking place to me ; looked as if every dwelling house
in town needed painting.
As the camp there didn't need any more help right at that
particular time, I went on to Miami, Fla., which is way down
on Biscayne Bay (Atlantic Ocean) and helped build their
camp. Started to work at Miami about November 31, 1917.
While down there around on the ocean I asked a fellow if there
was any danger in alligators, and he said : "Why, no ; not a
bit in the world, unless they happen to be hungry." As I did
not know just exactly when Mr. Alligator might be a little
hungry, I hadn't any desire to associate with him.
One day while walking down the street, in front of a book
store, they had a small open tank of water, and it looked as if
there were a thousand little alligators, just a few inches long,
swimming around in it. There was a sign on the tank which
read : "Please do not handle." I told the lady clerk, who was
standing in front, that if she put that sign up for me, she
might as well take it down, as she need never be uneasy about
me touching one of the things.
Some of the ground on which the camp at Miami was being
built was very low, and they had to pump sand from the bay
to make it higher. I was sitting down one day at noon by a
drain, bathing my feet in the water from the bay, which felt
nice and cool, when a gentleman passed by and said to me:
"My friend, don't keep your feet in that water too long."
Thinking maybe it might be unhealthy or something, I asked
him the reason why, and he informed me that the drains wei^
72 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
lined with moccasin snakes, and when one bites you, you just
live six hours. I wasn't long getting my feet out, and my feet-
bathing pastime was brought suddenly to a close.
I used to sit under a cocoanut tree and eat my dinner when
working at the camp. It was a curiosity to see the cocoanuts,
which would grow in clusters of about ten or fifteen on a little
limb not bigger than my wrist.
Before the work at Miami was finished there was a very
attractive price ofl'ered for help at Key West, which belongs
to Florida, but is 107 miles out in the ocean south of the main
land, and is just 90 miles from Cuba. The price they were
paying there was $6 per day through the week and $10 on
Sunday. Therefore I took the train for Key West, Tuesday
evening, December 18, 1917, and arrived there from Miami
I spent my first Christmas in Key West, in 1917, and it was
very warm. Electric fans were going in the restaurants, etc.,
doors wide open, and at that time here in Louisville the snow
was seven feet deep, so the folks here said, and cold as bliz-
zards. It was that cold winter here, you remember.
In going from Miami to Key West the train ran along the
edge of the Everglades, the most noted swamps in the United
States, which may be drained some day, but are worthless now.
The ground is so low it is doubtful whether it can ever be
successfully drained, but should it be done, then the worthless
sv/amps would be valuable, as that muck land, as it is called,
is very rich, being decomposed vegetation which has been
growing up, falling down and rotting for thousands of years.
To prove that the muck land is decayed vegetation, if dried it
will burn like fuel. Sometimes in extreme dry weather, if the
muck land happens to get on fire, it will burn all the way down
as deep as it goes, if it is ten feet. Louisiana has a good deal
of the muck land, too, that is the same way. That kind of soil
is the finest truck farming land in the world, but is not so
suitable for citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, etc., as the
dry sandy soil is better for them.
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 73
Most of the eastern portion of Florida is rocky, along near
the coast, but it is soft rock, and a pine tree will grow down
through it the same as if there was no rock there.
After leaving Florida City, going south, the rest of the
land is not worth two cents an acre, at least that is my judg-
ment of it, as it just runs out to nothing — water, swamp
bushes and once in awhile a little ground, for the bullfrogs to
hop up on.
The longest bridge I ever crossed was after leaving the
main land of Florida. It extended over to some small islands,
which are called keys. The Spanish word for them is cayo,
meaning an islet in the sea. The bridge is seven miles long.
The man that built the railroad over to Key West, which is
107 miles out in the ocean, across from one little island to
another, and which was thought to be impossible, only lived
long enough to ride over his road once after it was finished;
then he died, and his widow got it all. She married some
fellow, then she died, and I suppose he got it all, so that's the
way the world goes.
I took a forty-mile trip once with some other workmen in
an automobile truck, from Cocoanut Grove to a little town
south of there called Homestead; went out to see about some
lumber for the Government camp at Miami. Some of the boys
that I had been working with begrudged my trip a little, as
they would liked to have gone themselves, but I happened to
be the lucky one that day. As I passed in the machine, by the
boys, I looked back and said to them : "Boys, I'd hate to be a
poor man and have to work like you fellows!"
On the forty-mile trip, just referred to, we passed by a
tomato patch of 700 acres, which was a pretty good-sized gar-
den. Also, we passed several orchards, and my! how pretty
the orange trees looked, covered over solid with great big yel-
low oranges, and so are the grape fruit trees pretty things to
look at when full of big, round fruit. Little grape fruit trees,
not larger than a man's thumb, will begin to bear and be full
of fruit. Don't see how the little limbs can hold up the big
things, but they do. A grape fruit tree will begin to bear in
74 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
a year or two after it is set out, if the ground is sufficiently
fertilized, and that is one thing that is absolutely necessary,
as the orchard that is not fertilized every year is a failure.
The main business part of the town of Miami is just ordi-
nar\% all low buildings, nothing over three stories, and most of
them two. But the suburban portion of the town is very at-
tractive. Nature has blessed the locality with climate, soil,
etc., sufficiently for the people to beautify their homes most
any way they may desire. The Royal Palm trees are as pretty
as trees get to be. The body of the Royal Palm looks as though
it had been artificially painted, but 7iature did the painting.
A good many millionaires from the North have winter
homes in ]\Iiami out in the suburbs. They have landscape
specialists from New York and other places to beautify their
yards, any way to make them pretty, regardless of cost.
William Jennings Bryan has a fine home there ; also Deer-
ing, the millionaire harvester man, and his brother, have
liomes there, each trjing to excel the other in tastefully ar-
ranging things. Deering has spent several million dollars on
his property in giving it a pleasing appearance, and he cer-
tainly has accomplished his purpose. For a mile or more
along the road he has a wreath of ever-blooming flowers of
different colors hanging along on wires, growing like grape-
vines, and his fence along the road is a solid, smooth, concrete,
pink-colored fence about five feet high.
The prettiest sunrise I ever saw is beyond Deering's home,
where the Government camp is built. It is beautiful to behold
coming up over Bisca3Tie Bay.
The workmen used to ride out on trucks in the morning
from Miami, where a great many of them boarded. The trucks
were always crowded with men, blacks and whites, all jammed
together. One morning I was listening to a conversation be-
tween two negroes. One of them was verj^ much worked up
over his dog being killed. He said to the other one : "I had a
dog, and he was a fine dog, too, I'm here to tell you ; I could
git a hundud dollars for 'at dog any day, and a niggah come
along one night, one of these kind ah niggahs what hangs
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 75
around people's houses ; de dog bahked, and de niggah hit him
wid a rock and killed my dog; dog was wuf hundud dollars;
niggah wasn't wuf ten cents."
After leaving Miami I went to Key West, which is on an
island way out in the Atlantic Ocean. Key West claims 22,000
population; Miami claims 21,000; St. Augustine, the oldest
city in the United States, 7,800; Tampa, 60,500; Ft. Myers,
3,000 ; Palm Beach, the great bathing place, 4,000 ; Lakeland,
8,500, and Jacksonville, 100,000. I have been to all these
places mentioned, and don't see how they can get the figures
so high ; they must have counted the same fellow over two or
The island of Key West is about seven miles long, and it
varies in width from about three miles on the south side and
tapers to a point on the north; and, with the exception of
where the town is built, you can hold all the real dirt that is
on the island in your hat. It is a solid rock from the edge of
the town, the whole distance to the extreme north end. There
is not as much as an inch of dirt anywhere on the island, and
the most remarkable part of it is, there is a wilderness of
bushes, from ten to fifteen feet high, growing all over the
island, right on top of the solid rock. How their roots make
their way down through is a mystery, but they break their
way through somehow. The rock is not hard like our Ken-
tucky rock ; if it was, Mr. Bushes would have a sweet old time
getting through some of them.
The yards in the town are pretty and have plenty of dirt
in them. Also the cemetery is right pretty and has plenty of
dirt in it. I have seen as many as 35 cocoanuts growing in a
bunch on trees in Key West. Also, figs and dates grow there,
that is, ivhere the town is built. Nothing outside but bushes,
not even a garden ; not a seed of any kind is sown. All vege-
tables have to be shipped there, as nothing is raised on Key
It used to be interesting to watch a certain banana stalk
that I passed every morning on my way to work; that is,
watch its bloom ; every morning a new bloom would open, and
76 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
in the place of the bloom of the day before a little banana
would appear. A banana stalk only produces one bunch of
bananas, which comes right in the top of the stalk. Each year
they cut the stalk down, and another will come up from the
roots. Some banana stalks look to be ten or fifteen feet high
and about eight or ten inches in diameter near the ground.
A man asked me once if I ever saw a cotton tree. I told
him no, and that I didn't know there was such a thing. Then
he showed me a tree that was as large as our apple trees here,
full of bolls of cotton, similar to the bolls of cotton that grow
on the ordinary cotton plant of three or four feet high. The
cotton tree is ivood, same as any other tree, and is not a plant.
There are rubber trees in Key West that are a curiosity.
In addition to its roots in the ground, it has roots that grow
out on its limbs all over the tree, which makes it look as if it
didn't know which end was up, top or bottom; also there are
a few banyan trees in Key West, which are an object of curi-
osity, if allowed its own way, would cover several acres, as its
lower limbs grow out a certain length ; they will start a limb,
or a root, whatever it might be called, straight down to the
ground, and when it reaches the ground will then take root,
and so the limbs will continue to extend out and grow and
continue to put out the same kind of a root or limb downward
to the ground which supports the limb, and it continues to
grow outward, consequently the root limbs have to be kept
cut off to prevent its spreading.
The banyan tree is a native of India, but will grow in warm
climates here. Another remarkable thing about Key West is,
all the water that is used for drinking purposes, etc., is rain
water, as there are no wells or springs there. If they dig a
well, the water is so salty from the ocean that they cannot
use it, although there are one or two wells in town from which
the water can be used. The people catch rain water from the
roofs of houses and run it into their cisterns, etc. There are
no factories in Key West, only cigar factories and a box fac-
tory that makes cigar boxes. There is a sponge house that
buys sponges that are found on the bottom of the ocean, grow-
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 77
ing on rocks, and on the sand, out where the water is not so
very deep, near the shores. Sponges are formed by little ani-
mals in the water, and they have to be cleaned before placed
on the market.
Some people make their living by fishing, as there are
plenty of fish in the ocean and bays, which are principally
mackerel and king fish; that is, they are the most abundant
in that locality. About every residence in town is a rooming
house or a boarding-house, so if you have the money you can
find a place to stay.
When I left Key West, 9 :30 p. m., Saturday night, January
5, 1917, arrived at Tampa, which is way up north of there, the
next day (Sunday) about 1 o'clock p. m. ; went on a ship up
the Gulf of Mexico, but the ships and boats do not land at
Tampa ; had to go over to Tampa on a train.
In crossing the gulf, we were out of sight of the land for
some time ; couldn't see anything but water, water, water, and
the big waves dashing up high on the ship, as there was a
storm on the gulf. But we made it safe and all right, although
on the way back to Cuba the same ship was wrecked in a
storm. We were on dry land by then, and the wreck didn't
reach us only as we read it in the newspaper. It was raining
so hard in Tampa that I didn't stay very long. It was no sat-
isfaction to be there ; could not go around to see anything ; so
that evening, at 4 o'clock, January 6, 1917, boarded the train
for Arcadia, Fla., where there were two Government camps
to be built; arrived at Arcadia a little late that same night,
and the hotel at which I stopped was closed, which was the
Southern Hotel, but there being some very comfortable looking
rocking chairs on the front porch, I concluded to occupy one.
The next morning I walked in to breakfast, and by economiz-
ing in the chair the night before, had money to pay for it
and some left besides, as the night's lodging alone would have
been a dollar. True enough, I was much obliged to the hotel
man for his chair, but I forgot to thank him for it.
Before starting out to the camps to work I went out in the
country and picked oranges awhile. It was very amusing at
78 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
first to stick my head up through a big bunch of oranges and
having them hanging all over my face ; but soon got tired of it
after the novelty of picking wore off. Then I went out to the
camps to do carpenter work, and saw more rattlesnakes the
short time I was out there than in all the rest of my life put
together. Every Sunday the negroes would go rattlesnake
hunting and come dragging the nasty-looking things in. Rattle-
snake hides are used to make belts, and a good, big hide will
bring $3, so they said. Sometimes a negro would catch one
and bring it in alive, and have it around his neck, holding it
with each hand, but some of the negroes were afraid of them
as they would be of a wildcat, while others were not.
One day I was listening to a fellow telling a negro how to
catch a live rattlesnake. The negro had never seen many
rattlesnakes, and didn't seem to want to see very many. After
the fellow finished explaining how it was done the old negro
twisted his head to one side, with the remark : "Yes, boss, I
understands zackly how to ketch zat snake, but hows I gwine
turn him loose?"
There were about a hundred Cubans working at the camps,
digging up palmetto plants, with which the ground was all
covered, and which furnished a fine place for the snakes to lie
under out of the hot sun. One day one of the Cubans thought
he could catch a snake alive, as he had heard so much about
other fellows doing it. Consequently he tried the project. The
snake bit him ; they rushed him to the hospital. The next day
]. asked one of the Cubans how his friend was getting along,
and he said: "Well, de last time I hear f'om him, he died."
1 never inquired any more, as I thought that was about the
last news he would get.
The bosses at the Arcadia camp used to have entertain-
ments once a week for their own amusement and amusement
of others, too. They had a platform built for boxing matches,
and would give the winner sometimes $10 and sometimes $5.
Once in awhile they would put a bunch of negroes of eight or
ten, all on the platform together, which had a rope stretched
around it, and whoever stayed on the platform the longest got
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 79
the $10, and such a mess you never saw. It looked too brutal
for me; negroes knocking one another down like killing a
bunch of rats or something. When one was knocked off the
platform he wasn't allowed to come back. One negro broke
another's arm while boxing.
A big Irishman, who weighed about 225 or 230 pounds,
just to raise a laugh, jumped up on the platform, after one
fight was over, and said he would challenge any mon in the
world who was under nine years of age or over ninety.
I was working with an Irishman at that same camp, and
neither of us knew much more about carpentering than a hog
does about holiday; but I was a little farther advanced than
Pat was. One day we got separated at our work, and the fore-
man put Pat off a little ways by himself, doing some work.
Once in awhile I would look across the way, over to where my
friend was working, and he seemed to be in trouble about
something, but I didn't know what it was, of course, and, by
the way, I was having a little trouble myself, and it seemed
that none of us expert carpenters understood very much about
our business, which was putting together concrete forms that
had been used before ; it was very much to me like trying to
put a clock together that had been taken apart. I asked a big,
tall fellow, who was passing by, how to fix something, but he
shook his head and went on, remarking as he went : "You can
Then I saw another gentleman coming in my direction,
walking very rapidly. I thought at once, now is my chance,
as he looks like a man that knows something. I asked him
what about it. He took a look just about like the other fellow
and shook his head, and all the information I got out of him
was : "I be dam 'f I know." Finally the foreman came around,
and I ventured to tell him my troubles. I said to him : "Mr.
Foreman, I don't know whether you know it or not, but you
haven't got a man working for you that's got any sense at all."
He laughed and "kinder" scratched his head and said : "Well,
my friend, I already know it."
80 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
Sometime that evening I happened to pass by where my
friend, Pat, was working. I stopped a few minutes to see how
he was getting along, so I said to him : "Well, Pat, how have
you been getting along today without me?" He shook his
head a little, too, and replied : "Ah, and I had one h — 11 of a
toim; I thried for two hours to fix a pace of plank and it was
five inches too laung and I couldn't git the dom thing to fit."
Somebody came along and said, "Pat, if it is five inches too
long, just saw it off." Then Pat fixed it without any trouble.
After both camps were finished at Arcadia, Fla,, I returned
to Louisville, March 18, 1918, and quit the camp building;
then went over to Jeffersonville, Ind., and worked at the Gov-
ernment Depot till November 20, 1918, and this was what
Captain Pedersen, of the Quartermaster Corps, Salvage Di-
vision, handed me when I resigned:
Jeffersonville, Ind., November 20, 1918.
To Whom It May Concern :
This is to certify that Edward C. Figg has been employed
under my direction from March the 20th, 1918, to November
the 18th, 1918.
Mr. Figg has shown himself to be industrious and careful
in his work, and his record in general, so far as I have been
able to observe, has been excellent.
A. G. PEDERSEN,
AGP/ME Captain, Q. M. Corps, Salvage Division.
After resigning from the work at Jeffersonville I concluded
to go to New Orleans and stay till spring, where the winters
are milder than they are here. On arriving there my decision
was to take the first job that presented itself. It so happened
that a bartender was needed at a certain saloon. I got the job
November 25, 1918. Everything went along very well, till one
day he wanted me to sell claret wine that he had put water in
for the best port wine, and also to recommend his whisky to
be absolutely pure and the best that was made, when I had
seen him adding water to it; also, he wanted me to accept
every treat I could get and to always take whisky, but instead
of drinking it, just to put the glass to my lips quickly and pre-
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 81
tend to swallow it at one gulp, then set the glass under the bar,
and when the customers were all out to pour the whisky back
into the bottle and resell it again. I have counted as high as
eight glasses of whisky setting under the bar that he had taken
pay for as treats and was going to pour it back into the bottle
and sell it over again. I told him that I would have to draw
the line, as I couldn't do that, so he said I didn't suit him for
a bartender and he would have to give me a job in the res-
taurant. Then he got another man who could change tvater
into wine, etc.
I stayed with him a month, then secured a position with
H. Weil Baking Company, 4906-4918 Prytania street, and this
was what the manager handed me when I bade him good-bye
March 13, 1919.
H. WEIL BAKING COMPANY
4906-4918 Prytania Street
New Orleans, March 13, 1919.
To Whom It May Concern :
Mr. E. C. Figg has been in our employ for the past few
months, and we have found him to be honest and industrious.
He is leaving of his own accord, to go to his home in Kentucky.
H. WEIL BAKING COMPANY.
SECTION 3, CHAPTER 7.
New Orleans has many attractive features. The streets,
where an effort has been made to beautify them, are very
pretty indeed, while the cross streets and many others are bad,
and some are very filthy. The prettiest street in New Orleans
is St. Charles avenue. It has beautiful palm trees and shrub-
bery of different kinds (but not blooming flowers) along the
street, and everything arranged so tastefully that it resembles
a beautiful long park more than it does a street.
They have a grass in their yards, that is, the wealthy class
of people, that is a prettier green than our Kentucky blue
grass, but it only grows during the winter months and lasts
82 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
till the hot weather begins ; then it dies, and the seed has to be
resown the next fall.
The second prettiest street is Napoleon avenue, which is
wide and attractive, something similar to St. Charles.
Canal street, in New Orleans, is what Fourth street is to
Louisville, the main business center. The 10-cent stores are
the same as they are here, likewise the theaters and picture
shows. In every large city in the United States, unless it is
across the Rocky Mountains, where I've never been, the 10-
cent store companies have their business houses. It makes a
fellow feel at home, when he is a thousand miles or more away,
to look up in front of a store and see "F. W. Woolworth," 10-
cent store, and all the others along close together.
There are more statues of Confederates in New Orleans
than any other city. Some of them are as follows : Jefferson
Davis' monument, on Canal street ; Colonel Richard M. John-
ston, in the prettiest cemetery in the city, just inside from the
entrance, and Beaureguard's monument, at the entrance of
City Park ; Robert E. Lee's is the tallest and finest of them all
and is in the central part of the city; also, there is a large
monument in front of the post-office, in Lafayette Square,
erected in honor of Henry Clay, our Kentucky statesman.
There is a statue of Andrew Jackson on horseback in Jackson
Square, on Decatur street; also, there is a very large monu-
ment erected on the spot where he had his headquarters, in
an old dwelling house, during the war of 1812. My great
grandfather, James Figg, was with Andrew Jackson in that
battle, which was the Battle of New Orleans.
It must have been very disagreeable fighting in those days
at that battle, as the whole country around New Orleans was
nothing but swamps, and even to this day, with all the modem
drainage system, it is still considerably swampy. There are a
great many canals in and around the city for draining the wet
surface. Some of the streets were once canals, but have been
filled' up and streets made over them. Every Sunday I would
take a stroll, or a street car ride, to see the city, its parks, etc.
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 83
There was once a mint at New Orleans, on Decatur street,
but has been discontinued a good many years, and the ma-
chineiy, etc., sold for old junk. The building is still there;
the Red Cross uses part of it for their business.
There is one place on Canal street, where Camp and Maga-
zine intersect it, that you can get on a street car and go to any
part of the city you may wish for just one fare, and can take
a twelve-mile ride without transferring.
A great many of the streets bear the same names as here
in Louisville, such as Main, Market, Jefferson, Walnut, Madi-
son, Broadway, Magazine, and a number of others are the
New Orleans is strictly a Democratic city from its appear-
ance in the way of Confederate monuments, etc. Not a Union
monument can be seen, although just after the Civil War,
which was from 1861 to 1865, New Orleans was in the hands
of negroes, from the fact that the Confederates were defeated
and disfranchised by the Government and not allowed to vote ;
so the Republicans, in order to spite the Democrats, elected
negroes for their officeholders in the city, but that state of af-
fairs did not last long. One term of negro domination did
them, so they were disgusted with their own actions. There-
fore New Orleans has been "lily white" ever since in that
There is one thing that is a little remarkable, and that is
the Mississippi River is narrower at New Orleans than any-
where else between there and Memphis, Tenn., although it is
only ninety miles from its mouth, where it empties into the
Gulf of Mexico. The river is very crooked at New Orleans.
It is kept within its banks by a levee on each side of the river
as far up as Memphis, which prevents it from spreading over
the country during high water times.
There are trees in some of the parks in New Orleans that
are a thousand years old. That statement may seem a little
strange to some who do not understand how to tell a tree's age,
but it is a very easy matter to tell the age, simply by counting
the rings around the top of the stump. Some of the trees just
84 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
referred to were cut down, and that is how they know their
ages. The trees are not so large around as one might suppose,
as a tree grows very slowly after it gets a certain age; the
limbs, however, extend out a good ways. The best I remem-
ber, the trees just referred to are a species of live oak. I have
tested the method of ascertaining a tree's age by its rings on
the stump and found it to be correct.
New Orleans has a good many fine buildings and some tall
ones, too, for a Southern city, for, as a rule, Southern cities
do not have very tall buildings. The St. Charles Hotel is a
fine building, and so is the Hotel DeSoto, which covers a whole
block in front and is nine stories high ; the Hibernia bank is
eleven stories, and another building twelve; then there is the
Grunewald Hotel, which is the tallest building in the city; it is
Denominationally, New Orleans is very much Catholic, as
its population is largely of French and Spanish descent; and
the Italian population is large, too, all of which are Catholic.
It is right hard sometimes to tell what street you are on
when in New Orleans, as the names are not up on the corners
as here in this city. The names of the streets are usually on
the sidewalks, and in some cases no names can be seen at all
for several squares, and many of them are very hard to pro-
nounce, being pronounced entirely different from the way they
are spelled. On one occasion a policeman came across a dog
that had been run over and killed on Tchoupitoulas street. In
making out his report of the accident he couldn't spell Tchoup-
itoulas to save his life, so he gave a boy a nickel to drag the dog
over to the next street, which was named Common street. He
could spell Common all right, but couldn't handle Tchoupitou-
las, which is pronounced T-shop-i-tew-las.
It seldom ever snows in New Orleans, only about once in
twenty years, so I have been told by its inhabitants, although
it has cold, rainy days, and sometimes a little ice. One morn-
ing a fellow came into a restaurant where I was eating and
startled the crowd by announcing that there was a big snow
in town last night. We asked him what part of the city it was
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 85
in, as we wanted to see it. Then he told us that every car
down at the depot that came in from the North had snow on
top of them, so that was the big snow he had reference to.
Louisiana is a very poor grass State. There is some Ber-
muda grass in and around New Orleans, also some white
clover, which is about the only grass of any consequence for
stock to eat. All the Southern stock are generally poor and
scrubby looking and mostly dark-colored cattle, not fat like
the Northern stock. There is very little grass in any of the
extreme Southern States, which includes North Carolina,
South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi,
Louisiana and Texas, although Texas has a good deal of prairie
grass, some Johnson and Bermuda grass. The last two men-
tioned are not very desirable, as when once set cannot be very
easily gotten rid of, should the owner ever wish to cultivate
Around New Orleans the ground is a level rich muck land,
swamp land, and where properly drained is very rich and ex-
ceedingly suitable for truck farming, that is, gardening. Some
people build their houses in that section of the country about
four feet off the ground on top of posts, to keep out of the
water. Palmetto plants, a worthless weed species, grow wild
in Southern Louisiana and up as far north as some distance
above Jackson, Miss., which is about the central part of the
State, in wet places, but not so abundant as in Florida, from
the fact that most of Florida is covered with them. There are
some fruit trees in Louisiana, but not many. They consist
principally of peaches, pears and cherries, also a fig tree
There is a peculiar moss that grows on the trees in swampy
places in the Gulf States, and it hangs down five or six feet.
It would continue to grow and perhaps extend all the way to
the ground, but the wind blows it around and breaks it off.
It is very interesting to see, and it makes the tree look as if it
is in deep mourning. That peculiar moss can be seen on trees
in wet places as far north as Jackson, Miss.
86 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
* The principal trees that grow wild in the South, in wet
places, are the cypress and willow.
Lake Ponchartrain is a large body of water in Southern
Louisiana. It is about 100 miles long, but not so wide, and
for about fifty miles north of there the country is a wilderness,
principally of cypress trees, and the water stands over the
ground, most of the time, several feet deep, but occasionally
there are a few dry places scattered along.
A great many people down in that country still work oxen
to their wagons. Sometimes as many as six oxen can be seen
hitched to one wagon.
The laborers in that locality, from observation, consist of
Negoes, Negroes and Negroes. Around Jackson, Miss., there are
a few dairies of Jersey cows, and occasionally a herd of Guern-
sey cows can be seen, which resemble the Jersey, only the
Guernsey cattle have a white stripe around their body,
There are no swamps around Jackson, the capital of Mis-
sissippi. The country around there is higher ground and a
little hilly; some of the soil is gray and some of a reddish
color; pine and oak trees predominate, instead of cypress.
Why it is I do not know, but in every State in the Union,
wherever pine and oak trees grow spontaneously, the soil is
invariably of the grayish variety, whereas the cedar volun-
tarily takes the reddish colored soil. Wherever heech trees
grow spontaneously it is an indication of good land, but cedar,
pine and oak indicate thin soil, and is never deep and rich, al-
though it may be very fertile for an inch or two on top of the
The upland in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia,
Florida and Mississippi is poor, compared with our soil in this
State, or any of the Northern or Western States. Most all of
the States west of the Mississippi River are good, but Arkan-
sas is not much, although the river bottoms are very pro-
ductive, and also some portions of the State seem to be par-
ticularly adapted to apple raising. Some very fine apples are
produced in Arkansas. Northern Mississippi is fairly good.
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 87
from the central part of the State on up ; cattle and horses look
better and homes are more attractive.
There is not a com or flour mill in Florida, and not one in
Louisiana, that I have any knowledge of. Attention is more
given to cotton raising in the Southern States than to raising
wheat, although Texas is a wheat-growing State, and plenty
of com, too, but none of the Gulf States are suitable for apple
trees, and very few grape vines. Houses are principally cot-
tages, and no big bams.
In specifying Kentucky as the Bluegrass State, doesn't
mean that bluegrass only grows in Kentucky, for it will grow
and do well in any limestone soil that is moist enough to keep
it alive. Indiana has bluegrass, so have Missouri, Virginia and
Tennessee. True enough, it originated in Kentucky, and, nat-
urally, of course, is a little partial to it. The seed was first
taken to Missouri by a Kentuckian and sown. He emigrated
there from this State many years ago, but hasn't been dead a
great while, just a few years.
On returning to this city from the South, March 15, 1919,
I engaged in house painting for awhile ; did very well as long
as we were painting cottages, but one day we had one of the
skyscrapers here in town to paint. I took a look at one fel-
low that was already painting way up at the top, and he looked
something like an English sparrow sticking on the wall. There-
fore I discontinued my painting career immediately and en-
gaged in work with the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing
Company, May 20, 1919, and am at present still with them.
Traveling around is not all pleasure by any means. It is
very tiresome and expensive, and we imagine we are going to
see something over yonder that is worth looking at. But after
we see it, there was nothing so wonderful to see after all, and
the wonderful things are still just over yonder. Consequently,
ii we would buy a nickel's worth of picture cards to look at,
they would do just about as well as a hundred-dollar trip some-
Nevertheless, we sometimes see many different faces and
see people running to catch the train an hour before it is due
88 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
that amuses us, and occasionally some old rube from "way
back" may ask you if you know Jim Smith in St. Louis, or
some other city, when there are a thousand Jim Smiths in
eveiy town in the United States, and so forth.
One one occasion I was crossing a river on a boat. There
were two colored gentlemen passengers, arguing as to who
had the most to eat and who got by on the least money. One of
them said to the other : "Yes, I gits by on heap less'n you, for
my sister runs a restaurant; my eatens don't cost me nuf-en."
But the other one fixed him in the argument when he said :
"Yes, no wonder yo eatens don't cost you nuf-en; you eats
outen the gahbage can."
In all my rounds I never gambled or dissipated in any way,
but I suppose it is all right for those that believe that way, but
I just happen not to believe that way. Drunkenness and
carousing around at night may be all right, too, but I just
happen not to believe that way.
I believe when night comes that every man who has a
family should be at home with them, if it is so that he can be ;
or the family should know just where their father is, or the
husband, as the case may be. Likewise, the mother, by all
means, should let it be knov.^n just where she goes at night,
especially the husband is entitled to know those things without
ever having to ask the question, if peace and harmony are re-
garded as an essential factor in home affairs.
SECTION 4, CHAPTER 7.
A young man once asked me how 1 came to be a Methodist.
He said that he was not a member of any church, but would
like to join one if he knew which one to believe in; also, he
asked me if I ever saw in the Bible where anyone was ever
baptized only by immersion, that is, putting them under the
water. Here is what I said to him, and he afterwards joined :
"Well, Lee, I don't know but very little about the Bible, and
am not very competent to give advice to others, as, in my judg-
ment, one Protestant church is just as good as another; they
are all exactly the same, and all conscientious members are
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 89
headed for the same place; therefore, the Httle church differ-
ences are only a matter of choice. Nevertheless, I will give it
to you as I see it."
If you will read the 16th verse in the 3rd chapter of St.
Luke you will find where it says that John answered, saying-
unto them all: "I indeed baptize you ivith water; but one
mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not
worthy to unloose; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost
and with fire."
The word ivith explains very clearly that the water was
used by the hands in putting it on their heads by sprinkling
or pouring. As for example, if you say you hit a man on the
head with an axe, you mean that you used the axe in your
hands to hit him with ; you don't take the man in your hands
to hit the axe. Neither did John take the man in his hands to
immerse him on that particular occasion; he took the water
in his hands and did the baptizing.
The Methodists do not object to immersion at all; they
believe in it, as well as by sprinkling or otherwise, for the
Bible plainly speaks of both forms being used.
Here is the synopsis of METHODISM the way / see it:
First — When anyone asks for membership in our church,
that is, wants to join it, our preacher does not ask the old
members what they are going to do about it, and whether they
are going to receive them or not, for the Bible tells us to judge
not, lest we be judged, and we have no right to refuse to take
anyone into membership if he wants to join, for no one knows
that man's heart but himself and God.
Second — BAPTISM. We believe in baptism by sprinkling
immersion, or any other way that is followed by any other re-
ligious denomination, for the use of water, in any mode of
baptism, is nothing, only a representation of cleanliness and a
religious form that has been practiced ever since the begin-
ning of Chrstianity ; so it doesn't make any difference towards
saving you as to how it is administered.
Third — COMMUNION. We believe in open communion,
and we do not believe in close communion, for taking com-
munion represents the Lord's Supper, and it is hardly rea-
90 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
sonable to suppose that the Lord would make a discrimination
in his invitation to supper and reject any rehgious person or
persons because they belong to different denominations.
Fourth— INFANT BAPTISM. If a mother wishes her
babe to be baptized while it is an infant, it is permissible to do
so, and, in my judgment, is really beneficial to the child, from
the fact that as it becomes a little older, even before it joins
the church, when it finds out that it has been baptized it im-
mediately feels some restriction in the way of evil doings, and,
in conformity to the natural tendency of the mind, it feels that
it belongs to the religioKs class. However, the Methodists do
not require infant baptism at all; it is only granted through
courtesy to those who wish it done.
Fifth— FALLING FROM GRACE. We believe it is pos-
sible for a man to fall from grace, even though he may have
been once religious ; that is, he can gradually wander away and
grow careless until, after a while, he may be as much of a
sinner as he ever was before he was converted.
Sixth — Make no debt that you don't expect to pay.
Seventh — The Methodist discipline forbids its members
from using many words in buying or selling, for where there
are too many words used somebody might lie.
Eighth— SANTIFICATION. A sanctified man is one who
feels and believes, in his own heart, beyond a doubt, that his
sins have been forgiven; but yet, after all, when your sins have
all been forgiven, and you are as happy as a babe, you will
still have to be on your guard, for the evil spirit is constantly
at work, trying to destroy God's works, and so, after all, you
may fall by the wayside in the end and be lost.
Ninth— CHURCH LETTER. Should a member wish to
discontinue his relationship with the Methodist, and desire to
place his or her membership with some other church, the pas-
tor will freely give them a letter of recommendation, or intro-
duction, that they may place it with any church of their choice,
whereas some churches will not do that. I have in mind a
member of a certain church who wanted to change his mem-
bership to the Methodist. He asked his pastor for a church
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 9^1
letter, but he flatly refused and said : "Oh, no, he couldn't do
that, unless the member would take the letter to the same de-
nomination as his." Nevertheless, the situation was explained
to the Methodist pastor and he received him into membership.
SECTION 1, CHAPTER 8.
I used to belong to a literary club that met at different
neighbors' houses during the winter months when I lived
in the country. The young folks, knowing that I wrote little
verses sometimes that would rhyme, asked me to contribute
to their literary paper each week something of the kind, to be
read at the club on their meeting nights.
I have about forgotten all the pieces I wrote, but here are
two which are about the substance of them, one on James
McAlister and the other on Tom Thurman, neither of which
is true. Just wrote them for fun, to have a laugh on the boys :
JAMES McALISTER AND LENA ANDERSON.
They sat in the sun together.
Till the day was almost done.
And then, at the close of evening,
Jim used his gifted tongue.
He folded their hands together.
With eyelids drooping down.
And said, "My Lena, darling,
An angel, I have found."
"And Jimmie," said his Lena,
"You'r cruel, so to speak;
Why don't you come out boldly.
You seem so awfully weak."
"Well, Lena, should I ask you,
Would you tell me 'y^s' or 'no?'
Be quick, or all is over ;
My voice is getting low."
92 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
"Why, Mr. Jim McAlister!
You're joking, aren't you, Jim?
Why, mamma 'n papa's listning;
Your eyesight must be dim."
"Lordy, mercy, Lena!
Good-by, little pet,
I'll be back soon or later."
But I "hain't" been back there yet.
TOM THURMAN AND HELEN OCHS' COURTSHIP
Yes, I love you truly, fondly,
Since in years gone by we met,
And although you have forgotten
All j^our vows, I love you yet.
Quit your laughing and your sniggering,
Helen, can't you look up sad?
Ida Carlin says she's jealous,
But, of course, not raving mad.
Loving Helen, don't forget me,
Look up cheerful with a smile.
And the girl I loved last summer —
She will have to wait awhile.
One more week and all is over,
One more week and we'll be wed;
Won't you tell me that you love me ?
Helen ! What was that you said ?
Oh, the ties have all been broken,
Helen ; give me back the ring.
And I'll take my Ida Carlin
By her lovely little wing.
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 93
Then the preacher'll say some wordies,
And Miss Ida 'n me'll be wed —
You can come to Ida's wedding,
But don't tell her what you said.
A gentleman of clearly visible rusticity was telling me
once that he worked at a place in the country where they had
cold supper every night and he didn't like it — he wanted hot
supper. So he asked me to write him a little piece of poetry,
as he wanted to put it in her book she was reading every time
he came in from work. I said to him : "Well, if it is just two
or three rhymes you want, here they are," And I sat down
and wrote him the following foolishness, but he said that was
just what he tvanted. So he took his little paper along and
put it in her book. It ran something like this :
You come in late at night,
Find "icebergs" on the table ;
It's 'nough to make Cain scratch his head
And kill his brother Abel,
No wonder men are growing old.
Who ate the mouldy bread,
And this is what I have been told,
'Twas worse than horses dead.
Oh, when ye have been hard work,
Go in at supper-time.
Find all the women on the lurk.
Is worse than any crime.
Yes, I will tell you what I like,
For comfort and for supper;
Hot biscuits, milk and honey, Ike,
Oh, Lordy ! and some butter.
94 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
Old Brig-ham Young had twenty wives,
And sometimes he would mutter,
Because the rotten things alive
Would never cook him supper.
A drummer once asked me to write him a little poem. He
said he had been away from home for some time and was
going back in about a week, and wanted to make a guess, and
for me to put it into rhyme. His wife didn't seem to have the
least care for home affairs, but seemed to have a mania for
being out on the streets, parks, etc., and that he could only
stay at home a week or two at a time on account of it, as his
disposition to kill her would come into his mind, but when he
was away the feeling would leave him to a certain extent.
After he explained the situation I told him to wait a minute,
so I sat down and wrote the following lines :
One more week and I will leave you,
One more week and I'll be gone ;
What will be the consequences
On arrival at my home?
My three boys will be there sleeping.
Snugly in their proper bed.
And my daughter, only daughter.
Waiting at the stairway head.
For the mother, she is coming,
From somewhere, none of us knows,
Brealdng all the marriage contracts,
Out at places where men goes.
Moving pictures are all over,
And she's never got in yet,
But I hear her footsteps coming,
With a "friend" she has just met.
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 95
Oh, she says he is so funny,
And so cute and awfully nice,
And she says she's only met him,
Only met him once or twice.
If 'twas in a chile parlor,
Feasting full up to the brim!
She is married to another.
And the man she's with 's not him.
What can women see in "take-ups"
Like the one referred to now?
She can never run the secret ;
It leaks out, leaks out, somehow.
For it never was intended
For the wife to stroll the street
While the rest of all the family
Are at home in bed asleep.
She'll be crossways on arrival.
She'll be crossways when I'm home,
And upset all family pastime,
Thusly causing- me to roam.
A friend of mine some years ago quarreled with his best
girl. Each was too stubborn to apologize. Finally she mar-
ried. He asked me to write him a poem about it, and this was
what I said :
LITTLE DARLING, DID YOU LEAVE ME?
Little darling, did you leave me?
Why so cruel should'st thou be?
Why did'st fate ordain such sorrow?
Sorrow till eternity.
If we'd known the future coming,
If we'd known the past that's gone,
If we'd known each other better,
Long, ah, long before the dawn.
96 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
What could make the heart grow lighter?
What could make the soul feel glad
When our darling — only darling —
Chose another? Ah, 'tis sad.
Maybe, when some day in heaven.
We may chance to meet again,
Shall we give the hand in friendship?
Shall we take away the pain ?
Forgiving now, each other plainly,
Forgiving now, the past that's gone,
Recollecting all is over
Till the resurrection morn.
If one sympathetic tear should trinkle
Down the sweetest cheek on earth.
Let it stay as where it ran, dear ;
Do not wipe away its worth.
If I knew that such would be, dear,
And your heart was ever true.
Life would cancel all its sorrows;
I'd be happy then with you.
This little poem was taken from real life. Two young gen-
tlemen in the country one Sunday evening were planning to
call on a young lady not far away, a Miss Jennie Perry. They
were rather modestly inclined, nevertheless braced up courage
enough to make a start. The two gentlemen in question were
James S. Neel and myself, and these were the idle thoughts
that afterwards presented themselves :
JIM AND ME.
We sat by the barnyard gate,
Jim and me.
Two young fellows without a mate,
So you see.
We were planning what the future 'd be,
Jim and me.
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 97
As the birds sang sweetly,
We realized completely,
That a girl in the neighborhood should be
Interwoven with pleasure;
And the two men of leisure
Went calling that even', don't you see?
Yes, Jim and me.
Then the daisies grew on the hillside, wild,
And the rocks abundantly free,
And happy the hearts of the two brave larks,
That were planning what the future 'd be.
Yes, Jim and me.
Then the sunbeams sank in the far-off West,
And the flowers, they fade, so to be.
And the girl, that gathered the bouquet — at last —
The girl, oh, where is she?
And Jim and me?
TO THE COUNTRY-TOWN BOY.
Better you had stayed in the country.
Where fashions are not quite so fast, !
And built up your wealth more steady.
With a foundation more liable to last.
In cities, 'tis true, things are lively.
And pleasures on most every side;
Then once in awhile a street car
Will pass for you to ride.
But somehow, young men are tempted.
With evil, I suppose is the name ;
Saloons and night revels together
Turn pleasures sometimes into shame.
Boys who have minds too tender,
Though would rather do right than wrong,
Are decoyed by most of their comrades
To come, and all go along.
98 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
Yes, everything's so convenient,
Together with the shade of the night,
And so many minds intermingled,
And most of them not for the right.
But never be too hard on the city,
For there's culture, refinement and grace,
There's churches and religion existing,
Existing in most every place.
THE BEAUTIFUL SNOW.
The beautiful snow, so pure, so fair.
Covering our footpaths, and filling the air.
Lies gentle and cheerful, at the break of mom.
When the farmer 'wakes and goes to the barn ;
Ah, though 'tis beautiful, and a welcome boon,
Yet it happens to come one day too soon.
(For he hasn't any boots to put on.)
Feeding and milking is sweetest, you know,
Mingling and mixing with the beautiful snovr.
(If you haven't any gloves to put on.)
Hauling the fodder and breaking the ice.
Shivering and shaking, is awfully nice.
(But I never was a lover of pastime.)
Climbing the hills and crossing the brooks.
The levelest places, according to looks.
(Is sure to be over your boot tops.)
Little tiny infant, so pure, so fair.
Entering our holdhold, our blessings to share.
Milking and churning and doing the chores,
Rocking the cradle and running outdoors.
(And I wonder how long it will last.)
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 99
His Thoughts at Twenty About His Girl.
Little precious loved one, tender and sweet,
Making things lively whene'er we meet,
Troubles and tribulations and trials can't last ;
No, no, no never ; they are a thing of the past.
He's Been Married One Year.
Little devilish young one, crying all night,
Yes, kicking and scratching, with all its might.
(And I haven't slept a wink for two weeks.)
Children All Married and Gone.
Come, dearest loved one, we've lived long and true,
Let's banish our troubles and pleasures renew;
Many trials, many tribulations, many joys and woe.
Intermingled our pathway, since long years ago ;
Lay me away gently ; 'tis sad, but it's true ;
Sing a sweet anthem, our Master's in view.
The following piece is an acrostic. Read the letters down
on the left-hand side, from top to bottom ; then read the bottom
line and see what it says. It was dedicated to Miss Belle
Hartford, July 26, 1893:
Mighty hot, these long, long days, love,
In the quiet we assume.
Shady places, same as ever,
Sunday evenings, after noon.
Bid the summer sweetest welcome,
Envy not her cheerful clime,
Let us come to some conclusion.
Long before the winter time.
Ever careful we should be, love.
100 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
How we move each day by day,
And be thankful to our Master,
Rightful dealings every way.
Tell me, when the leaves have withered,
For the summer then is fled,
Or the flowers are all dead.
Round the florals they are shed,
Do not hesitate I said,
It is time for us to wed.
Shelby County, Kentucky, Sunday morning, May 20, 1894.
Ground white with snow and still snowing.
NATURE HAS CHANGED.
Roses and honeysuckles all in bloom,
Wishing they hadn't have come out so soon ;
Grasses and wheat fields, a delicate green,
Covered with snow, such as we never have seen.
Ice cream (or snow cream) and vegetable combine,
Making a novel dish, suiting the time.
All things lovely and nothing amiss.
When cold, bleak winter the summer did kiss.
Then summer, all bowing its head in shame.
Kissing the lips of its wintiy dame;
Tho' soon 'twas passed and gone away
From o'er the blooms that were so gay.
DEATH WITHOUT TEARS.
If we saw one, true and faithful.
Lying cold upon the ground,
Could we keep the tear from falling
When we saw that we had found
A dead cut-worm?
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 101
If we saw the death-gate open,
And the hundreds tumbling in,
Would we say: Come back next April,
And be welcome, like you've been,
Dearest cut- worm?
Ah, the cruel hearts within us,
Why not bless and then repent?
We have eaten fruit forbidden,
And the Master, He has sent
The dear little cut-worm.
Just be patient till next winter,
I'll assure you com and bread ;
Then the tempest will be over,
And the wormies they'll be dead.
Cute little cut-worms.
FILLING A TOOTH.
Oh, the tiny little augur,
With its whirl-iu-quiv-i-quivirum ;
Then the spade, pick and shovel and the drill,
Lying loosely on the table.
Close beside the man that's able
To take you up and grind you in his mill.
Then the horrid, punching chisel.
With its razzle, dazzle, dizzle,
Dancing Yankee Doodle Dandy on the wing,
Do you feel as if you'd like to try to sing?
When you pay the money over,
"Kinder" semi, not so willing,
Don't you think you'll quit the business,
102 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
And the dentist's shop forever?
Though the man he was so clever,
Yet you was a little skittish of his style
And his file.
This little poem was written for my daughter when she
was going to school. She used it as a speech. I borrowed a
few lines in the first two stanzas, then added the rest myself :
LIVING FLOWERS ARE THE BEST.
In our garden are many roses,
Some are white and some are red ;
Really, I am fond of roses,
But want them now, not when I'm dead.
Do not wait to show me kindness,
Till the earth is o'er my head ;
In your garden are many roses,
Strew them now, not when I'm dead.
Show your friendship to your playmates ;
Always speak the kindest word ;
They'll remember what you told them.
They'll remember what they heard.
After while, when you grow older.
And your hair is silvery white,
It will be a pleasing pastime,
It will be your heart's delight
Then to meet that same old schoolmate
When life's tottering into night.
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 108
When the lonely sftadows gather,
And the birdies go to rest;
When the blossoms and the roses
All cease to do their best;
When the plow-boy and his horses,
When the cows and little calves.
Are all coming down the by-ways,
And filling up the paths,
Then the evening, it has come.
When the falling leaves they gather,
'Neath the bushes and the fence.
Telling tales of joy and sadness.
Contemplating their defense ;
When the wintry snows are falling,
And the chilling winds and rain
Tell us go and feed the cattle —
How we wish we could remain —
Then the evening, it has come.
When the dearest of our loved ones,
Tender, fond and always true.
Cross the river, over yonder-,
Bidding us a last adieu.
Then the evening, it has come.
Long years have passed and yet we stand
On the brink of a lonely shore ;
Friends and mates with whom we played
Are gone forever more.
Our babes that once we loved so w^ell,
And love as truly still.
Have families of their own. Ah, yes,
Just over yonder hill.
104 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
The roads are rougher than they were,
The hills so steep and high;
The distance seems so far away
That once it was so nigh.
The fences, they are made of wire,
The roads are made of stone.
The taxes and the politics
Have taken what's our own.
The folks, they are not all the same;
And clothing, not of jeans;
Oh, may we reach that Holy Place
Where fashions do not change.
But maybe we'll be glad to get
Back in the same old range,
Should we reach that Lower Place,
Where fashions do not change.
Dedicated to a lady friend, Miss Billie Pearl Thompson, of
Mead County, Kentucky.
Well, Miss Billie, friend and dear,
Once in awhile my heart feels queer.
When I think about my little baby girl ;
Although she lives in ISIead,
I would have to get up speed.
As the train, it goes by in a whirl. ,
In the morn, when I awake,
Just for her sweet little sake,
I will think about her.
Once or twice a day ;
I know it is silly.
But I like my little Billie,
And I care not
What the people all may say.
ELIZABETH iFIGG) RILEY
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 105
Then at noon, when dinner time,
Thoughts return back into line,
Although they may have
Wandered far and wide;
I will keep on thinking yet
About my darling little pet.
Till the dewdrops fall
At even' tide.
Then at night, when all is still,
Idle thoughts they come at will.
And we cannot keep them
Back, you know;
Should we ever wish to wed.
Though she hasn't fully said,
That the answer would be
Even "y€s" or "no.
But, of course, I'll make a guess,
That it never would be "yes,"
As she has so many fellows
With the dough.
SECTION 2, CHAPTER 8.
Having given you a few rhymes of my own composition,
I will now favor you with some selections from others. The
first one was written by my youngest sister, who is now dead,
and who married Gabriel Riley, of Pittsburg, Kansas.
WE WILL MEET AT THE PEARLY GATES.
While sitting today all alone in my room,
Watching the raindrops fall.
In thought I live my life over again.
And all of the years I recall.
How foolish I've been in my life of the past,
Why sorrows, I knew not a one,
I should have been happy from sun till sun.
106 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
For actual sorrow and grief came at last.
I now call to mind, a few years of the past,
A message there came so sudden, so fast,
A message from mother, it read this way :
Your father is worse, grows worse each day.
I started to him that very night.
For I knew he was calling for me ;
I thought I could hear him say, many a time,
I wonder if "Babe" is coming to me.
God saw fit to take from us
Our father, we loved and caressed.
To a home above prepared on high,
With the angels of love ever blessed.
At the end of life's span.
When God calls to their fates
Our loved ones to a home on high.
The first to meet us at the "Pearly Gates"
Will be the father we bid good-by.
He will plant on our brow of sorrow and care
A kiss of affection and peace,
And we will be happy and bright and fair,
Our sorrows and troubles will cease.
—Mrs. Elizabeth (Figg) Riley.
HIS SIXTH BIRTHDAY.
(By Georgina E. Billings)
He has given up his cradle and his little worsted ball.
He has hidden all his dolls behind the door ;
He must have a rocking-horse
And a hardwood top, of course,
For he isn't mamma's baby any more.
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 107
He has cut off all his curls, they are only fit for ^rls,
And has left them in a heap upon the floor ;
For he's six years old today,
And he's glad to hear them say
That he isn't mamma's baby any more.
He has pockets in his trousers, like his older brother, Jim,
Though he thinks he should have had them long before ;
Has new shoes laced to the top,
'Tis a puzzle where they stop ;
And he isn't mamma's baby any more.
He has heard his parents sigh, and has greatly wondered why
They are sorry, when he has such bliss in store ;
For he's now their darling boy.
And will be their pride and joy,
Though he cannot be their baby any more.
I'LL BE ALL SMILES TONIGHT.
I'll deck my brows with roses.
The loved one may be there.
And the gems that others gave me
Will shine within my hair.
And even them that know me
Will think my heart is light.
Though my heart may break tomorrow,
I'll be all smiles tonight.
I'll be all smiles tonight, love ;
I'll be all smiles tonight;
Though my heart may break tomorrow,
I'll be all smiles tonight.
108 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
And in the room he entered,
The bride upon his arm;
I stood and gazed upon him
As if he were a chann;
I saw him smile upon her,
So once he smiled on me;
He knows not what I've suffered;
He found no change in me.
And when the dance commences.
Oh, how I will rejoice;
I'll sing the songs he taught me
Without a faltering voice.
When flatterers come around me
They will think my heart is light;
Though my heart may break tomorrow,
I'll be all smiles tonight.
And when the dance is over.
And all have gone to rest,
I'll think of him, dear mother,
The one whom I love best;
He once did love, believe me.
But now grown cold and strange;
He sought not to deceive me :
False friends have wrought this change.
(By Will S. Hays)
Won't you tell me, Mollie, darling,
That you love none else but me.
For I love you, Mollie, darling;
You are all the world to me.
Oh, tell me, darling, that you love me ;
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 109
Put your little hand in mine ;
Take my heart, sweet Mollie, darling,
Say that you will give me thine.
Mollie, fairest, sweetest, dearest.
Look up, darling, tell me this :
Do you love me, Mollie, darling?
Let your answer be a kiss.
Stars are shining, Mollie, darling.
Through the mystic veil of night ;
They seem laughing, Mollie, darling,
While fair Luna hides her light.
Oh, no one listens but the flowers,
While they hide their heads in shame ;
They seem modest, Mollie, darling,
When they hear me call your name.
I must leave you, Mollie, darling,
Tho' the parting gives me pain ;
When the stars shine, Mollie, darling,
I will meet you here again.
Oh, good-night, Mollie! Good-by, loved one!
Happy may you ever be ;
When you're dreaming, Mollie, darling,
Don't forget to dream of me.
The following is an old song that was very popular a quar-
ter of a century ago. The words are right good and true.
AFTER THE BALL.
A little maiden climbed an old man's knee.
Begged for a story, do, uncle, please;
Why are you single, why live alone?
Have you no babies, have you no home?
110 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
I had a sweetheaii:, years, years ago,
Where she is now, pet, you will soon know ;
List to my story, I'll tell it all,
I believed her faithless, after the ball.
After the ball is over, after the break of mom,
After the dancers leaving, after the stars are gone,
Many a heart is aching, if you could read them all,
Many the hopes that have vanished, after the ball.
Bright lights were flashing in the grand ball-room.
Softly the music, playing sweet tunes ;
There came my sweetheart, my love, my own —
I wish some water ; leave me alone ;
When I returned, dear, there stood a man.
Kissing my sweetheart, as lovers can ;
Down fell the glass, pet ; broken, that's all,
Just like my heart was, after the ball.
Long years have passed, child ; I've never wed,
True to my lost love, though she is dead ;
She tried to tell me, tried to explain ;
I would not listen, pleadings were in vain.
One day a letter came, from that man ;
He was her brother, the letter ran ;
That's why I'm lonely — no home at all ;
I broke her heart, pet, after the ball.
The words in the following old song are right good, espe-
cially the last two stanzas. The author of the song is unknown
MARY AND JOHN.
Mary and John, down in the distant old village.
Fell deeply in love and were engaged to be wed ;
But one day, up went the nose of sweet Mary,
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 111
At what her John, or some girl, had said ;
John simply smiled ; he was much given to teasing,
And some old song softly he started to sing.
Mary with rage every moment grew warmer,
And at his feet threw their engagement ring.
I won't be your wife, said Mary ;
Thank goodness for that, said John ;
I hate such a brute, said Mary ;
But other girls don't said John ;
I'm going back to the dairy ;
Well, that's just as well, said he,
I hope you'll be at the wedding
Of Mollie Malone and me.
Mary turned 'round, just went a step or two from him,
Then at her John one farewell sly-glance she threw,
Thinking perhaps he was already repenting.
But all he said was, I don't care what you do.
Out came his pipe, soon clouds of smoke he was puffing
Into the air, stretched out full length on the green.
Mary stood by ; somehow her heart was breaking ;
Had John become tired of his village queen?
Well, am I to go, said Mary ;
I don't care a rap, said John ;
To spite you I won't, said Mary ;
Well, maybe you won't, said John ;
Oh, why are you so contrary?
I'll drown myself, sir, said she ;
Said John, on your way, dear Mary,
Send Mollie Malone to me.
Tears filled her eyes, as with her apron she covered
Her pretty face, heaving a heartrending sigh ;
All seemed over, what was the use of her staying?
112 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
Turning to John, she then gently said good-by.
Up like a shot jumped the young fellow, all smiling,
Touched to the heart by such a tender farewell ;
Kissed all the tears from the sweet face of his Mary,
Told her the tales fond lovers always tell.
Then John, he hugged his Mary,
And Mary she hugged her John ;
He vowed that a fairer fairy he never had gazed upon ;
And while little Mary was laughing, her head resting on his
With that I'll conclude my story ; no doubt you can guess the
PUT MY LITTLE SHOES AWAY.
Mother, dear, come bathe my forehead,
For I'm growing very weak ;
Mother, let one drop of water
Fall upon my burning cheek ;
Tell my loving little schoolmates
That I never more will play ;
Give them all my toys ; but, mother.
Put my little shoes away.
I am going to leave you, mother.
So remember what I say;
Oh, do it, won't you, please, dear mother?
Put my little shoes away.
Santa Claus, he gave them to me
With a lot of other things.
And I think he brought an angel
With a pair of golden wings. |
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 113
Mother, I will be an angel
By, perhaps, another day,
So you will then, dearest mother,
Put my little shoes away.
Soon the baby will be larger,
Then they'll fit his little feet ;
Oh, he'll look so nice and cunning
When he walks along the street ;
Now I'm getting tired, mother.
Soon I'll bid you all good-day.
Please remember what I tell you,
Put my little shoes away.
Loosened the silver cord, ended life's tome.
At last she has entered her beautiful home ;
The chamber is darkened, and silent, and chill,
The chair in the comer she'll never more fill ;
From weariness, suffering, sighing and tears,
Dropping the chrysalis burden of years.
No longing for morning, no dreams to affright.
Where they need not the sun, the lamb is the light.
Oh, joy she has tasted no tongue hath e'er told!
The dear ones who left long ago, will behold.
Then weep not, then grieve not, but jubilant say,
She has passed the Dark Valley, and happy today.
114 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
On March 27, 1890, between 8 and 9 o'clock at night, the
most terrific cyclone that ever was known in the State, passed
through this city, Louisville. It was a horrible sight to see. It
entered the city at Parkland, tearing away houses as if they
were toys; thence passed through to the Seventh Street
Depot, blowing it into the river, and thence took its course up
the river, striking a part of Jeffersonville.
I've a sorrowful tale to tell.
Of the cyclone of Louisville,
It was March the 27th, after day;
Oh, it was at the hour of eight
When death opened up its gate ;
It claimed its own and quickly passed away ;
Many hearts were light and gay,
And were happy all that day.
Never dreaming of sorrow nor of pain;
But the great tornado came
And stretched out its powerful arm;
It killed our friends and tore away their homes.
Five poor laundry girls were killed
While preparing to retire for the night ;
At the Louisville Hotel,
But the cyclone struck the house,
And they were crushed beneath the ruins,
And one young man escaped, named Virgil Wright.
But when death on those did call
Who had gathered at Falls City Hall,
They never thought that danger was so near;
But the building it fell down,
Burying all beneath the ruins.
And the sad news was soon spread o'er the town.
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 115
So, kind friends, it may be so,
That there's some one here tonight
Who lost a father, mother or some friend ;
So, remember what I say.
That there'll be a coming day
That each life tonight must have an end ;
So, kind friends, I must away.
For I can no longer stay,
And may God pity those who met their deaths,
For you know we cannot say
The minute nor the day
That we may be united with the rest.
NO TELEPHONE IN HEAVEN.
"Now I can wait on baby,"
The smiling merchant said.
As he stooped and softly toyed
With the golden, curly head.
"I want oo to tall up mamma,"
Came the answer full and free,
"Wif yo' telephone an' ast her
When she's tumming back to me.
"Tell her I's so lonesome
'At I don't know what to do ;
An' papa cries so much, I dess
He must be lonesome, too ;
Tell her to tum to baby,
'Tause at night I dit so 'fraid,
Wif nobody dere to tiss me
When the light bedins to fade.
^*A1I fru de day I wants her,
For my dolly's dot so tored
Fum de awful punchin' Buddy daved it,
Wif his little sword ;
116 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
An' ain't nobody to fix it
Since mamma went away,
An' poor 'ittle lonesome dolly's ditt'n
Thinner every day." ,
"My child," the merchant murmured,
As he stroked the anxious brow,
"There's no telephone connection
Where your mother lives at now."
"Ain't no telephone in heaven?"
And tears sprang to her eyes ;
"I frought dat God had ever'fing
Wif him up in the skies."
Lay down my head, dear, it's no use to cry;
My trouble is past ; I am going to die ;
The hillpath is over, I'm beat in the race,
For the wind of the world always blew in my face.
It'll daunt me no more, but I mind how it blew,
I slipped and I fell, and I tried it anew ;
But, fight you or flee, it's a desperate case
To clamber up hill with the wind in your face.
Sweet, sweet are the meadows by river or rill,
Where the turf is all green and the weather is still ;
But people can't all have the easiest place —
The wind must be blowing in somebody's face.
I'm tired of it, Mary, I'm glad to be gone ;
You're better off without me, you won't be alone ;
You have borne with my sorrows a wearisome space,
And the wind that dismayed me has blown in your face.
Good-by, little maidie, I never shall stand
In your sunshine, my darling, my rose of the land !
My trouble your bright head shall never abase —
The wind of the world never'll blow in your face.
SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY 117
Good-by, dears, good-by ! I won't kiss you again,
I'm far out too weary to lengthen my pain ;
Just cover me over, I'll lie in my place
Till the wind is all quiet that blew in my face.
The heavenly sunshine will warm me up there ;
No wild wind or tempest shall vex the soft air ;
When the last sob is uttered, God grant me His grace
To rest where the wind cannot blow in my face.
THE DYING GIRL'S MESSAGE.
Raise the window higher, mother, air can never harm me now ;
I^t the breeze blow in upon me, it will cool my fevered brow ;
Soon death's struggle will be over, soon be still this aching
But there is a dying message I would give before we part ;
Lay my head upon your bosom, fold me closer, mother, dear.
While I breathe a name long silent in your fond and loving ear.
Mother, there is one; you know him; oh, I cannot speak his
You remember how he sought me, how with loving words he
How he gained my young affections, vowing in most tender
That he would forever guard me, were my heart but his alone ;
You remember how I trusted, how my thoughts were all of
Draw the curtain higher, mother, for the light is growing dim.
Need I tell you how he left me, coldly putting me aside?
How he wooed and won another, and now claims her as his
Life has always been a burden since those hours of deepest
118 SKETCHES OF THE FIGG FAMILY
Wipe those cold drops from my forehead, they are deAtii
marks, well I know;
Gladly I obey the summons to a bright and better land,
Where no hearts are won or broken, but all forms one happy-
Do not chide him, mother, darling, though my form you see
Grieve not ; think me only waiting for you on the other shore ;
Do not chide him, mother, darling, though you miss me from
I forgive him, and I wish him joy with her so soon his bride;
Take this ring from off my finger, where he placed it long ago ;
Give it to him with a blessing, that in dying I bestow.
Tell him that it is a token of forgiveness and of peace ;
Hark ! I hear his voice ; it passeth ; will those watchings never
Hark! I hear his footsteps coming; no, 'tis but the rustling
Strange, how my distorted fancy caught his footsteps on the
I am cold now ; close the window, fold me closer, kiss me, too ;
Joy ! what means that burst of music ? 'Tis the Savior's voice,
See Him waiting to receive me! Oh, how great a bliss to die;
Mother, meet your child in heaven; one more kiss and them
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