Abner Eversole

[Abner was in the Ky. 6th Cavalry and Ky. 14th Cavalry where he served as 2nd Lieutenant.  He was my great greatgrandfather.  Square brackets in the text are my comments]

Lexington Leader, Oct. 1, 1940 [article by John F. Day]:

"They say that a man born to drink of the lonesome waters of the hill country will return to drink of them again before he dies.
"Of most Kentucky mountaineers that is true, but not for Abner Eversole. He's pushing 98 now, and though he was born in the very heart of the hills--Chavies, in that narrow neck of Perry County where Breathitt and Leslie almost meet--and though he spent most of his life in those and adjoining counties, he has lived in Lexington for 20 years with never a touch of homesickness.
"'I like to visit back in the hills now and then,' he says, 'but I ain't much of a mind to go back to live. No, sir, I like it here where I've got electric lights, an' runnin' water, an' gas-heat. Guess I'm jest natcherly sp'iled, but I guess I won't go back to th' mountains to live er die.'
"When Abner Eversole was born 13 Jan. 1843, to Joe and Sally Bowling Eversole, the hills around his home at Chavies were covered for miles upon seemingly endless miles with virgin oaks and poplars and walnuts and maples and hemlocks and magnolias and hickories and lynns. There was game then, too. A man didn't have to hunt all day for a few measley squirrels or a rabbit. He could shoot deer within a few hundred yards of his home, and he didn't have to look very far for a bear.

Spun Wool Into Cloth

"When Abner Eversole was a youngster, and in fact for many years after he had grown to manhood, his people lived on the fat of the land. Theirs was a lonesome life, but a full one. His mother, and later his wife, Martha Lewis Eversole, clipped the sheep, carded the wool, spun it into thread and wove it into cloth. His father, and later he himself, made shoes from home-tanned hides. The family reaised their corn, and with it they fed their hogs, their oxen and themselves. A patch of bottom land, not rocky as now, produced vegetables a-plenty, and little cash was needed. Even when such an item as coffee was needed from the store, barter would do the trick.
"In 1861, news spread through the hills by word of mouth that the southern states had seceded from the union and that there was war. Now the mountain people, cut off from the rest of the state and the nation, were pretty much a law unto themselves. They were little concerned with what went on at Frankfort, or at Washington either for that matter, but their fathers and grandfathers had fought to create this union, and they weren't for seeing it destroyed. Furthermore, except in isolated instances, they weren't slave-holders. It was natural, then, that Abner, being 18 and as he says, 'full of vinegar,' went off to join the Union forces [Ky. 6th Cavalry].
For four years after that it was ride and skirmish and ride again. Most of the details of those four years have faded into oblivion for Abner Eversole, but there's one fight he hasn't forgotten, the Battle of Richmond. "Rebel buckshot pert nigh tore my leg off there,' he says. And Rebel buckshot and musket-balls and bayonets caused a lot of carnage during that two-day struggle in the early fall of 1862. For General Kirby's [Kirby Smith] fighting men in gray slipped down the new military road the Union forces had built over Big Hill and drove Brigadier General William Manson's 7,000 Yankees all the way from Richmond to Lexington. It was bloody hand-to-hand fighting that struggle from Richmond to Lexington, but Smith pressed his advantage, and General Lew Wallace, who had held Lexington with 20,000 troops, withdrew into Ohio.
"For two months Confederate forces held the Bluegrass, but then Smith moved his army to Virginia, and the Yankees returned to occupy Lexington and Richmond.

Lay In Hospitals

"For several weeks after that battle Abner Eversole lay in field hospitals, because the buckshot, let loose at close range, had torn away the muscles [he was listed as AWOL; after this he joined the 14th Ky. Cavalry]. And for many years, until comparatively recently in fact, he had to wear a rubber stocking.
"When the war was over and Abner Eversole was mustered out as [2nd] Lieutenant Eversole, he returned to Perry county, and in 1870 he began a term as county assessor. Before that, however, he went to the Green Hill academy at Booneville, Owsley county, for formal education needed to augment the little he had go[ne] during three three-month terms before the war. All in all, he probably never went to school more than four years in his life, but he was an educated man for the time and place.

Elected To Legislature

"After three years as Perry assessor, he moved to Laurel, and in 1877 was elected to the state legislature from the Laurel-Rockcastle district. From that time until 1888, when he went back to Perry and served for three years as county school superintendent, he was farmer, storekeeper, lumberman. 'Many's the thousand logs I've seen floated down the North fork of the old Kentucky,' he says. 'And many's the raft I've helped steer down to Frankfort.' He didn't realize it then, but those many thousands of logs he saw represented the beginning of the despoiling of the hills he had known, the beginning of long-time poverty for the mountains.
"In 1894, he was elected police judge of Jackson, resigning that post two years later to become a United States storekeeper and gauger. In the government service he worked 24 years, retiring 26[?] years ago on pension 'with as good a record as any man, I guess.'
"Abner Eversole didn't even start to grow old until he was 77, and during the last 20 years he has grown old as gracefully as any man can. He still enjoys good health, and gets around well, he reads the daily newspaper, he likes to talk to his friends and to sit on the front stoop in warm weather and at the front window in cool and watch the cars go by.
"No, he has no prescription for living a life as long as his. Members of his family mention the horseback riding he did for more than half a century, his regular hours, his eating of fruits and drinking of milk. But Abner Eversole just smiles and says, 'It's hard to say why one man lives longer than another.'"