The Long Lost Trunk
Winnie Johns in front of the Johns-DeRossett House, 1950.
Of Winnie Fitzpatrick Johns
  This is the story of a cheerful little lady who lived in Prestonsburg's oldest house and kept in her attic an old trunk containing some of Floyd County's oldest documents. It is also the story of two of the town's oldest families. Twenty-one years ago, the lady went to her reward, and six years later, her house was damaged by fire and subsequently torn down. Until recently, everyone assumed that the fire had destroyed the trunk.
  The lady in question was Winnie Fitzpatrick Johns (1882-1979), known all over Eastern Kentucky as "Prestonsburg's Happy Weaver." The house in question was the historic Johns-DeRossett House on Front Street, which was Winnie's residence for more than sixty years. The trunk in question is an old wooden trunk with metal reinforcements now sitting on the front porch of Jim Daniels's camp house in Auxier. Until recently, it was filled to the brim with old books,  letters, photographs, and rare old court documents.
  For most of her long and productive life, Winnie Johns lived in the house which she had inherited from her husband, the Johns-DeRossett House on Front Street. In 1985, six years after her death, the old structure was badly damaged by fire. Afterwards, Winnie's Salisbury relatives (her daughter Evelyn had married Herbert Salisbury, Sr.) came to town and began sorting through what was left of her belongings. When her famous trunk turned up missing, they decided that it had been consumed by the flames.
  Today I am happy to report that they were wrong and that the trunk was not destroyed. Several months ago, Jim Daniels, President of the Floyd County Historical and Genealogical Society, was contacted by Mrs. Betty Ratliff Stallard of Coeburn, Virginia. She reported that the trunk was in her possession and that she wished to donate it to the society. At that point, of course, she had no idea how important the trunk really was.
  Today the trunk is resting safely on Jim's porch at Auxier, and its precious documents have been sorted and placed in protective envelopes. Their survival is entirely due to the efforts of Mrs. Stallard, who deserves our heartfelt thanks for preserving them all these years and for having the persistence to see that they were finally returned to us.
  By the way, I also want to thank Jim Spencer of Martin, Kentucky for helping me sort through the documents and place them in protective envelopes.
  The story of how the Floyd County Historical Society acquired the trunk is an interesting one. In 1985, Betty, a native of Johnson County, was building a house on U. S. Route 460 near Paintsville. Arvel Nelson, the contractor  hired to do the job, was during that period tearing down the previously-mentioned Johns House. One day Nelson mentioned to her that his men had found an old trunk in the attic of a house he was tearing down and asked her if she would like to have it."What about the people who own the house?,"  she asked him. "Don't they want the trunk?" Nelson assured her that they had taken everything out of the house that they wanted.
   After she agreed to take the trunk, Nelson delivered it to her and placed it in a metal outbuilding she had erected on her property. At one point, she opened the trunk and looked briefly at the papers stored in it. She was saddened by the sight, because she realized that she was looking at the history of someone's family.
   Several years after she acquired the trunk, Betty vacated her Johnson County home and moved to Coeburn, Virginia, leaving the trunk in the metal outbuilding. Before she left, she made several unsuccessful attempts to contact the trunk's previous owners.
    In 1999, Betty asked her brother Ray Ratliff to remove the trunk from her metal outbuilding and move it to his garage. There it stayed until January of this year, when she paid Ray a visit and noticed the trunk sitting in his garage. Once again, they opened it and looked at its contents.
  "Somebody needs this stuff," she said, and once again she began calling people who might conceivably be able to help her track down its owner. Then someone told her about Jim Daniels, the President of the Floyd County Historical Society. She placed a call to Jim, and the rest is history.
   Winnie Fitzpatrick Johns was the daughter of Jasper and Rosamund Parsons Fitzpatrick of Prestonsburg. On April 10th, 1884, the Ashland Independent ran this item in its "News From Prestonsburg" column:
Jasper Fitzpatrick & Co. have erected a grist mill just opposite Prestonsburg. Good for Hopper; hope they may do well. It was a thing much needed.
    We know little about Jasper Fitzpatrick, but it is probable that he was fairly well-to-do, because the 1900 U. S. Census shows Winnie, age 16, and her sister Edith, age 6, living with their parents in a house on today's Arnold Avenue. Jasper's and Rosamund's neighbors were Michael and Belle Richmond, Greenville and Laura Davidson, and Andrew and Josie Davidson. Josie, you may recall, was the author of Josie M.Davidson, Her Life and Works (Prestonsburg, 1922), a charming look at life in Prestonsburg during the latter half of the 19th Century.
  Winnie's sister Edith grew up to become Edith Fitzpatrick James, Prestonsburg piano teacher, director of the Jenny Wiley Chanters, founder of the Kentucky Highlands Folk Festival, and nationally-known collector and preserver of Appalachian folk songs.
   In 1901 Winnie married Thomas P. Johns, son of John Graham Johns, a well-to-do Prestonsburg merchant during the 1880s and a descendant of Judge John Graham, land agent for Colonel John Preston and first surveyor of Floyd County. The Johns family was one of the county's oldest, and Thomas and his bride took up residence in the Johns-DeRossett House on Front Street, the oldest house in Prestonsburg.
Front View of the Johns-DeRossett House in Prestonsburg, 1910.
   The Johns-DeRossett House was an historic house for several reasons. For one thing, its weatherboards enclosed the log cabin that had been erected by Prestonsburg fur trader Solomon DeRossett in 1823. But DeRossett wasn't the only famous person associated with the house. During their retreat from Cynthiana on June 12th, 1864, General John Hunt Morgan and his men stopped in Prestonsburg to rest their mounts. While they were doing so, according to Henry Scalf, Morgan stopped at the Johns-DeRossett House to visit the Johns family and spent half an hour resting, drinking a glass of water, and chatting with his lady admirers.
   One of the letters found in Winnie's trunk confirms this story. Writing to Kentucky historian Willard Rouse Jillson on November 9th, 1963, Winnie disclosed that her mother-in-law, Elizabeth Harkins Johns, an eyewitness of the event, later told her mother that "John Hunt Morgan stayed in my house during his stay in Prestonsburg. I was about 23 years old at that time." Winnie's motive in writing the letter was to persuade Jillson to place the John Hunt Morgan Highway Marker in front of the Johns-DeRossett House. The marker was dedicated on May 9th, 1964, and despite Winnie's suggestion, it was placed in West Prestonsburg along U. S. Route 23.
  The Thomas Johns that Winnie married was known as Thomas P. Johns III. According to Johns family genealogist Paul Preston Burchett, the original Thomas P. Johns (b.1742) was a native of Amherst County, Virginia and migrated to Floyd County around 1812 with his son, Thomas P. Johns, Jr. (b.1786). Thomas P. Johns, Jr. married Nancy Layne, sister of James Shannon Layne, and farmed near present-day Harold before moving to Lawrence County. Thomas's and Nancy's  son Thomas P. Johns (1816-1865) married Elizabeth Graham, youngest child of Judge John Graham and Rebecca Witten Graham. This third Thomas P. Johns was the father of John Graham Johns (1839-1921), the Prestonsburg merchant who was the father of Winnie's husband. By the way, John Graham Johns is buried along with his son and daughter-in-law in the Weddington Cemetery above Trimble Branch.
   Johns family genealogist Karen Salisbury points out that the known facts regarding Thomas Johns, Sr. are somewhat puzzling. During the 1818-1820 period, while he was living in Harrison County, Kentucky, he applied for a Revolutionary War pension, stating that he was a destitute farmer whose only property was a saddle worth 40 dollars. He also stated that he had no children, despite the fact that his son Thomas was living in Floyd County and his son Anderson was living in Montgomery County. By that time, both sons were doing well. In 1820 Thomas, Sr.'s application was forwarded to Ohio, but the record doesn't list the name of the county.
   What Karen and I both find to be interesting about Thomas Johns, Sr. is his vitality and his pioneer spirit. In 1820, at the age of 78, despite his physical infirmities, he nevertheless decided to pull up stakes, move to Ohio, and start a new life for himself. And like other men of his type, he had a bit of the rogue in him and wasn't above falsifying an application in order to obtain some badly-needed cash.
  To go to Karen Salisbury's excellent genealogy of the Johns Family, click here.
  When we contrast Thomas Johns, Sr. with his descendant, Thomas Johns III, we find many differences. Thomas, Sr. was driven by the same land-hunger and relish for adventure that drove Daniel Boone and other early pioneers. Thomas Johns III, son of a well-respected local merchant, was a much more rooted kind of man. We don't know very much about the early years of Tom's and Winnie's marriage, but we do know that on March 3rd, 1904, she gave birth to a baby girl. The young couple decided to name their daughter Evelyn.
John Graham Johns (1839-1921) Evelyn Johns Salisbury (1904-1976)
Herbert G. Salisbury, Sr. (1899-1966)
Thomas P. Johns III (1878-1922)
   Evelyn grew up to become a handsome and intelligent young woman, and on January 3rd, 1922, she married Herbert G. Salisbury, son of James P. and Chaddie Halbert Salisbury of Prestonsburg. One of the county's most successful men, James Pendleton Salisbury had begun his career as manager of the Beaver Creek Coal Company at Ligon. By the 1920s he was one of the county's most successful coal and gas developers and owned his own private railroad car.
  When Evelyn married Herbert, she married "the boy next door." When she was growing up, the Salisbury clan (there were eleven children in all) lived in the old Ralph Booten House at the south end of Front Street, only a block away from the Johns-DeRossett House.
   Unfortunately, Tom's and Winnie's marriage ended in tragedy. While he was still in his thirties, Tom developed a severe case of arthritis and lost the use of his limbs.
   Forced to live the life of a shut-in, he retreated to  their upstairs bedroom and its old fourposter bed, where Winnie fed him his meals and ministered to his daily needs. One fine morning in 1922, while Winnie was downstairs rolling biscuits, Tom got out of bed, pushed a stool over to the highboy, took a pistol from the top drawer, got back into bed, and shot himself in the head.
  The tragedy would have overwhelmed a weaker person, but Winnie was endowed with a strong mind and a strong heart. She also had many loyal friends, and with their help she was able to triumph over her grief and overcome the consequences of her husband's deed.
   Thirteen years later, Winnie was tested by another ordeal. In 1935 her son-in-law, Herbert Salisbury, Sr., an employee of the Prestonsburg branch of the Kentucky Emergency Relief Administration, was summoned before a Federal Grand Jury and indicted for using the U. S. mails to defraud welfare recipients. He was subsequently convicted and sent to the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia. Dozens of other Floyd County men were also convicted, including the county judge, the members of the fiscal court, and the mayor of Prestonsburg.
   When Herbert went to prison, he left behind his wife Evelyn and their two sons, Robert and Herbert, Jr. His income had been their chief means of support, and now it was gone.
   What was to be done? Fortunately, Winnie was equal to the challenge. With Evelyn's help, she set up shop as a seamstress and began taking in sewing. By the way, in her trunk we found a full set of needles, dozens of spools of thread, and other tools of the seamstress trade.
  In addition to her sewing, Winnie also earned money in other ways. Delmas Saunders recalls that during the late 1920s and early 1930s she was the owner and manager of the Hotel Elizabeth, at that time the largest hotel on the Big Sandy River.
   Winnie was forty years old when her husband passed away. In the years that followed the tragedy, she discovered that she had a talent for leadership and decided to devote the rest of her life to community service. She was a charter member of the John Graham Chapter of the DAR, joining the organization in 1925. On June 14th, 1928, with Winnie presiding as chairman, the organization assembled in the Prestonsburg High School Auditorium and celebrated its first flag day.
   One of the speakers was Prestonsburg attorney A. J. May, who told the crowd about the part which John Graham had played in the early history of Floyd County. Later the same day, the John Graham Marker was unveiled and a photograph was taken commemorating the event.
Crowd at the Dedication of the John Graham Monument on First Avenue in Prestonsburg, June 14th, 1928.
Six DAR Ladies in the Garfield House, 1930. Front row, left to right: Claudia Leete, Evelyn Salisbury, Winnie Johns. Back row, left to right: Myrtie Weddington, Bess Leete, Maggie Leete.
    If there was ever a person who loved Floyd County and worked tirelessly to promote it, it was Winnie Johns. In her later years she was active in the Big Sandy Valley Historical Society, the Floyd County Fair Board, the Sesquicentennial Board, the Floyd County Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Colonels, and the Winnie Fitspatrick Johns Dogwood Trail Association.
   Winnie founded the latter organization in 1964 for the purpose of planting dogwoods along U. S. Route 23 from East Point to Betsy Layne. She conceived the project as a memorial to Floyd County's war dead, and in 1965 the county's two American Legion Posts honored her for her work by giving her a silver goblet.
   Winnie liked to say that Floyd County was "the best place on earth and getting better every day."
During the 1930s, concerned about the disappearance of Appalachian native crafts, Winnie acquired an old hand-made wooden loom and singlehandedly began reviving the lost art of weaving. She had learned the craft from "Aunt Lizzie" Banks of Bull Creek, a woman she had often visited during her childhood. By the way, Winnie's loom still exists and is now owned by David and Karen Salisbury of Gloucester Point, Virginia. David is Winnie's great grandson.
  On February 16th, 1939, the Floyd County Times ran an article about Prestonsburg's WPA Sewing Center and its supervisor, Winnie Johns. Winnie told the reporter that during the center's open house on February 24th, an old-fashioned loom, flax wheel and spinning wheel would be on display. Fashioned by Abbott Creek pioneer settler Bill Adams, the loom was made of yellow poplar and was estimated to be 116 years old. Here is a picture of Winnie's WPA Sewing Class.
Winnie and Tom in their rocking chairs on the back porch of the Johns-DeRossett  House, 1910.
In 1979, the Floyd County Times ran an article about Winnie containing this passage:
In the 1930s, when the WPA was hiring people for what were often lampooned as "make-work" projects, Winnie Johns set about organizing local craftswomen into a marketing cooperative, both to foster Eastern Kentucky's native crafts and, hopefully, to turn a profit on them. She formed another group, Mountain Crafts of the Chanters, shortly before World War II. And she was still at it in the Sixties, when the Kentucky Mountain Crafts and Folksong Center was established, with Mrs. Johns heading the crafts division and her sister, Edith James, directing the collection of folk music.
Though the marketing projects did not thrive, Winnie Johns's own handiwork did. The weaving that she had learned from "Aunt Lizzie" Banks, on Mutton Fork of Bull Creek, and taught to countless other women, came to win wide recognition. Rugs, tapestries, and needle-work of hers have been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum and Macy's in New York City, at Gimble's in Philadelphia, and at the Smithsonian and the National Folk Festival in Washington, D. C.
   Whatever happened to Winnie's rugs and tapestries? Perhaps someone reading this article knows the answer to this question.
  It is time now to give my readers a glimpse of the documents that Winnie kept in her famous trunk. The most important of these are some circuit court records dating from Floyd County's first two decades. There are, for example, twenty-two bills and depositions relating to a lawsuit which Samuel May filed in 1816 against John Graham, John Spurlock, and Spurlock's heirs. In his suit Samuel claimed that Graham and Spurlock had deliberately cheated him out of a piece of property, and that he was the rightful owner of Lot No. 10, Long Range, in the Town of Prestonsburg.
Here is a list of the principal documents associated with Samuel May's "Suit in Chancery":
1. Bill of Complaint filed April 10th, 1816 by Samuel May against John Spurlock and John Graham.
2. Deposition of William James Mayo, Floyd County Clerk, taken by Justice of the Peace James H. Wallace on October 5th, 1818. Samuel May and Fanny Spurlock were present when the deposition was taken.
3. Deposition of William Keeton, taken by Justice of the Peace Henry B. Mayo at the house of David P. Harris on May 18th, 1817.
4. Bill of Revision filed by Samuel May on April 16th, 1817 and attested by William James Mayo, Floyd County Clerk.
5. Amendment to the Amended Bill, filed by Samuel May on October 20th, 1818 and attested by William James Mayo, Floyd County Clerk.
6. Deposition of John Turman, taken by Justice of the Peace J. Edward Burgess at the house of Micaja Frashier on March 19th, 1819.
7. Answer of Fanny Spurlock and Hiram Spurlock to a Bill and Amended Bill in Chancery filed by Samuel May, filed October 17th, 1817 and attested by Jonathan Mayo.
8. Supplemental Answer of John Graham to a Bill in Chancery exhibited against him by Samuel May, filed April 20th, 1820 and attested by William James Mayo, Clerk of Floyd County.
9. Deposition of William Herrell, taken by Justice of the Peace Peter Amyx at "the House of Spurlocks in Prestonsburg," filed October 20th, 1819.
10. Deposition of George Martin, taken by Justice of the Peace Peter Amyx at the house of David P. Harris on May 18th, 1819.
11. Separate Answer of John Graham to a Bill in Chancery exhibited against him and others by Samuel May, filed April 24th, 1818 and attested by William James Mayo, Clerk of Floyd County.
12. Deposition of Elizabeth Young, taken by Justice of the Peace Henry B. Mayo at the house of John Havens in Prestonsburg, filed October 26th, 1816.
  The first paragraph of Samuel's complaint contains some key facts about the establishment of the Town of Prestonsburg:
To the Hon. Judge of the Floyd Circuit Court in Chancery sitting-your Orator Samuel May, humbly complaining, sheweth unto Your Honor that in the year [?] a town was legally established upon the lands of John Graham in the Circuit aforesaid, known by the name of Prestonsburg. That John Graham was privy to and approbated the establishment of said town. That Trustees were legally appointed to superintend the sale of lots in said town and execute deeds of conveyance to the purchasers of lots in the same.
   Samuel begins his complaint by saying that sometime in the 1805-1808 period, he purchased a half-acre lot from James Young "to wit Lot No. 10 in long range," for which he paid thirty dollars. In return he received from Young an order signed by Graham requesting that the town's trustees give Young a deed for the property. With this order in hand, he says, he went to the trustees and requested that they draw up a deed for the property. When this was accomplished, he took the deed to the Clerk's Office so that it could be recorded. "Afterwards, and as your Orator  believes, sometime in the year 1808, the Clerk's Office was unfortunately consumed by fire, by which conflagration your Orator's deed and the record thereof, if any such had been made, were entirely destroyed."
Here is the original 1797 Survey of the Town of Prestonsburg, showing Lot No. 10, long range. The half-acre lots are the smallest ones.
  In his next paragraph, Samuel points out that in the years following the fire (1809-1816), some of the Trustees died and others moved from the county, "so that the corporation became dissolved." Then he says that in 1811 or 1812, John Spurlock "enclosed by fencing" Lot No. 10, and "thereby unjustly took possession of the same" without his consent. Samuel also says that sometime in 1815, Graham gave Spurlock a deed for the lot. And although Samuel had often asked Spurlock "in a friendly manner" to give up possession of the lot, "yet he hath wholly refused and still doth refuse in any manner to redress you Orator in this his enormous grievance."
  How was Samuel's suit settled? Unfortunately, we don't know. The weight of the evidence was in Samuel's favor, so it may have been settled out of court. Whatever the case may be, we can be sure that it established his reputation as a fighter, as a man who was willing to "take on the establishment."
  The case is an interesting one, not only because it opens a window on the land disputes that followed the Floyd County Courthouse Fire of 1808, but because it presents evidence that John Graham was not as honest as we have hitherto assumed him to be.
  John Spurlock enjoyed the distinction of being the town's original settler, having come to the Big Sandy in 1791 with his wife Fanny and several of their children. Tradition says that he built his cabin on a site directly east of the recently-vacated Prestonsburg Post Office. Whether Spurlock originally owned or claimed all of the bottom land where Prestonsburg now stands, or if he held a deed to it, cannot be determined from the surviving records.
   During the early period, John Spurlock may have been an agent for Colonel John Preston or a partner of John Graham, the surveyor and original proprietor of the town. Records kept in Frankfort show that on May 3rd, 1797, Graham surveyed the site on which the Town of Prestonsburg now stands. As we all know, the town was part of Colonel John Preston's 100,000-acre land grant, entered at the Land Office in Richmond, Virginia on March 9th, 1787.
    Was Spurlock Graham's partner? There is some evidence  that he was. Some years ago Henry Scalf discovered John Graham's Bond to John Spurlock, dated September 27th, 1814, which shows that on that date Graham sold to Spurlock "all the lots in the Town of Prestonsburg" for ten thousand dollars. As we have seen, this transaction is mentioned in Samuel May's 1816 Bill of Complaint.
   Graham's 1814 Bond is a strange document, in view of the fact that Samuel's Complaint and other documents found in Winnie's trunk show that the Prestonsburg lots were bought and sold several times by land speculators during the years prior to 1808.
  One document, for example, is a twelve-month note from Richard W. Evans to Thomas C. Brown, Solomon Stratton, Caleb Litton and Thomas Pinson, dated July 21st, 1801, for the amount of Sixty-Eight Pounds and one penny. This was the price Evans was obligated to pay for Lots No. 6, 8, 10, 13, and 14. By the way, Solomon Stratton, co-founder of the Stratton Settlement at Mare Creek, was one of the men who assisted Graham when he surveyed Preston's Station in 1797. 
   How could Graham have sold town lots to Spurlock in 1814 that he had already sold to others at an earlier date? Perhaps there is a logical answer to this question. Whatever it is, the papers in Winnie's trunk show that the 1808 courthouse fire caused Graham numerous legal difficulties.
  There is no doubt that Winnie started collecting circuit court documents because of her interest in Floyd County genealogy. It was evidently her habit, during the 1930s and 1940s, to go to the Floyd County Courthouse, browse through the files of the circuit court, and take home records that particularly interested her.
   That she was able to do this testifies not only to her eccentric ways but to the leniency of Ivory Smiley, the Floyd County Clerk during that period. Delmas Saunders says that Ivory was not an educated man, and that he probably didn't have the foresight to realize that the documents under his care would someday be highly valued. Interested in winning Winnie's vote, he may have encouraged her to keep the documents which she borrowed.
   Whatever the case may be, the fact remains that Winnie's trunk contained a veritable treasure-trove of early court documents. Though I don't have room here for a complete inventory, I will list the most important ones.
   There are four receipts for the sale of Negro slaves, all of them mentioning Adam Gearhart, son-in-law of John Spurlock and the county's principal slave-dealer. The dates on the receipts are 1833, 1845, and 1857, respectively.
  One receipt, dated January 29th, 1845, says: "Received of my father Adam Gearhart one negro man named Dinas and one tract of land on the right hand fork of beaver creek being a part of my fathers old farm."
First section of Samuel May's Bill of Complaint
against John Graham and John Spurlock, 1816.
Adam Gearheart Slave Receipt dated January 29th, 1845.
  There are also several other documents relating to the Gearhart family, including a complaint filed by Hetty Gearhart in 1856 against "the hairs and creditors of Adam Garehart decest" and an 1830 deed conveyed by Adam and Esther Gearhart to Prestonsburg attorney John Preston Martin for"the John Harris Farm" on Bull Creek. The chief value of this document is that it allows us to fix the precise date when Martin moved his family to Floyd County. As many of you already know, Martin went on to become one of the town's leading lawyers and a U. S. Congressman during the 1840s.
   Winnie's trunk contained two documents relating to the Friend family. One is a rental agreement dated March 10th, 1831 and signed by Charles W. Friend and Samuel K. Friend, in which the former agreed to furnish the latter with "one house and part of a lott in the town of Prestonsburg"  for one year in exchange for twelve dollars.
   The second is a bond dated September 14th, 1829 and signed by Solomon DeRossett , in which, for the sum of fifty dollars, he promised to convey to Samuel K. Friend "a lot in the town of Prestonsburg No. 2 lying on the river side of main street and above the publick square beginning at the crop fence thence along said fence to a crop fence between the shop and stable thence on a strait line to the river." The shop mentioned in this passage was probably a blacksmith shop, and Solomon was probably the town's blacksmith.
   In addition to the documents that I have already mentioned, there is a document concerning the Samuel James family of Johns Creek, one dealing with the James P. Harris family of Middle Creek, and several relating to the Job Martin family, the John B. Turner family, the Greenville Salisbury family, the Robert Salisbury family, and the Lackey Salisbury family of Left Beaver Creek.
  Another document concerns the Johns family of Prestonsburg. Dated June 29th, 1867, it is a deposition given by David Morgan at the home of Jonathan Mayo in Paris, Illinois, relative to the case of George R. Burgess versus Thomas P. Johns and Elizabeth Johns. The document mentions "one half of the Graham farm," a large parcel of land that Elizabeth had inherited from her father, Judge John Graham.
   The question now arises as to what should be done with these documents. At the present time, as we all know, Floyd County has no museum or genealogical research center, and our libraries are not equipped to handle old documents that are in fragile condition. For that reason, I believe that our wisest course of action is to donate them to the Kentucky State Archives in Frankfort, where all the other Floyd County Circuit Court records are kept. We should also remember that, since Floyd was the Mother County of Eastern Kentucky, these records belong to the citizens of the entire region.
   Jim Daniels, President of the Floyd County Historical Society, has indicated to me that he believes that the records should be returned to the files of the Floyd County Circuit Court, from which they were taken some years ago. Furthermore, he says, the question of the disposition of the records should be decided by a vote of the society. I agree that the society should make the final determination, and, because I have no strong objection to returning the records to Floyd County, I will not oppose the society if that is what they decide to do.  
   Floyd County badly needs a place to store and exhibit its old records. I am willing to wager that we are the only county in the Commonwealth that doesn't have such a place. We also need a place where tourists interested in genealogy can come to do research on their Floyd County roots. Every summer increasing numbers of tourists come to my office at PCC asking if I have any information about their Floyd County ancestors.
    Surely it is time for the City of Prestonsburg to make good its promise to the members of the Floyd County Historical Society and allow us to make use of the old Fire Station on Cemetery Lane.
   Until another space becomes available, however, there is only one place in Prestonsburg where Winnie's documents can be displayed, and that is the Samuel May House. If you are interested in viewing the Winnie Johns documents and studying them in more detail, please call me at 886-3863x290 and make an appointment. I have plenty of free time this summer, and I will be glad to meet with you at the May House and give you an opportunity to study the documents.
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