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Friday, September 9, 2016

Mays Lick in Kentucky #history #genealogy #kentuckypioneers

Mays Lick, Kentucky in 1800
By Jeannette Holland Austin

cock fight"Mayslick, although scarcely a village, was at once an emporium and capital for a tract of country six or eight miles in diameter, and embracing several hundred families, of which those in father's neighborhood were tolerably fair specimens. Uncle Abraham Drake kept a store, and Shotwell and Morris kept taverns; besides them there were a few poor mechanics. Uncle Cornelius Drake was a farmer merely, and lived a little out of the center of the station; the great men of which were the three I have just named. With this limited population, it seems, even down to this time, wonderful to me that such gatherings and such scenes should have been transacted there. They commenced within five years after its settlement, and increasing with the progress of surrounding population, continued in full vigor long after I left home for Cincinnati. It was the place for holding regimental militia musters, when all the boys and old men of the surrounding country, not less than those who stood enrolled, would assemble; and before dispersing at night, the training was quite eclipsed by a heterogeneous drama of foot racing, pony racing, wrestling, fighting, drunkenness and general uproar. It was also a place for political meetings and stump conflict by opposing candidates, and after intellectual performances there generally followed an epilogue of oaths, yells, loud blows, and gnashing of teeth. Singing-schools were likewise held at the same place in a room of Deacon Morris's tavern. I was never a scholar, which I regret, for it has always been a grief with me that I did not learn music in early life. I occasionally attended. As in all country singing-schools, sacred music only was taught, but in general there was not much display of sanctity. I have a distinct remembrance of one teacher only. He was a Yankee, without a family, between forty and fifty years of age, and wore a matted mass of thick hair over the place where men's ears are usually found. Thus protected, his were never seen, and after the opinion spread abroad that by some misfortune they had been cut off, he cut and run." The infant capital was, still further, the local seat of justice; and Saturday was for many years, at all times I might say, the regular term time. Instead of trying cases at home, two or three justices of the peace would come to the Lick on that day, and hold their separate courts. This, of course, brought thither all the litigants of the neighborhood with their friends and witnesses; all who wished to purchase at the store would postpone their visit to the same day; all who had to replenish their jugs of whiskey did the same thing; all who had business with others expected to meet them there, as our city merchants, at noon, expect to meet each other on change; finally, all who thirsted after drink, fun, frolic, or fighting, of course, were present. Thus Saturday was a day of largely suspended field labor, but devoted to public business, social pleasure, dissipation, and beastly drunkenness. You might suppose that the presence of civil magistrates would have repressed some of these vices, but it was not so. Each day provided a bill of fare for the next. A new trade in horses, another horse race, a cock-fight, or a dog-fight, a wrestling match, or a pitched battle between two bullies, who in fierce encounter would lie on the ground scratching, pulling hair, choking, gouging out each other's eyes, and biting off each other's noses, in the manner of bull-dogs, while a Roman circle of interested lookers-on would encourage the respective gladiators with shouts which a passing demon might have mistaken for those of hell. In the afternoon, the men and boys of business and sobriety would depart, and at nightfall the dissipated would follow them, often two on a horse, reeling and yelling as I saw drunken Indians do in the neighborhood of Fort Leavenworth, in the summer of 1844. But many would be too much intoxicated to mount their horses, and must therefore remain till Sunday morning. Source: Pioneer Life in Kentucky (Cincinnati, 1870) 

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