Saturday, September 22, 2007

Changing Trains in Guthrie, KY

Guthrie's passenger train days described in old stories

TrainI've happened upon a couple of interesting passages about changing trains at Guthrie, KY.

"A Special Providence" is the story of Mrs. Melissa Allgood, who is on the train alone. She's a 34-year-old widow who has been traveling with a Holiness band, singing in the towns of central Kentucky. She listens sympathetically to the problems of another traveler, an old gentleman, and before long, he announces that God wants him to marry her when the train stops in Guthrie. The tale of his pursuit and her escape appear in an amusing book, Stories of a Sanctified Town, written by Lucy S. Furman and published in 1896 by the Century Company, New York.

Lucy S. Furman was a Kentucky writer. She wrote Widow Allgood's story in a dialect that is amazingly authentic, to this day. (Let me just be blunt: I mean that some people still talk that way!)
Lucy Furman (1870-1958) was a novelist whose writing has considerable charm even today. Born in Henderson and graduated from Sayre Institute in Lexington, she spent much of her life in Hindman as a house-mother at the Hindman Settlement School. After she left Hindman she became a crusader against cruelty to animals. The Lonesome Road (1927) is often cited as the strongest of her five novels.

Source: KYLIT - A site devoted to Kentucky Writers

The other story of changing trains in Guthrie is not so funny. Two Tennessee lawmen are transporting a prisoner to Nashville, but they must change trains at Guthrie, KY, just across the state line. As they wait for the Nashville train to arrive, they discuss whether they have any legal authority while they are out of the state of Tennessee. This chapter is titled, "A Noted Individual Shuffles Off This Mortal Coil and Leaves the World None the Poorer", and it is part of The K. K. K., a fiction written by C.W. Tyler and published in 1902 by the Abbey Press, New York.

C.W. Tyler was a judge in Clarksville, TN, just 30 miles or so from where I live. He would certainly have known all about going to Guthrie to get on the train to Nashville. His book, according to a 1904 New York Times review, demonstrates the flaws of vigilante groups and of conventional law enforcement, but suggests that a responsible K. K. K. "is at least excusable in exercising a sort of fatherly care over the community." I wonder how many times Judge Tyler stretched or ignored the law in favor of the Klan.

I am sure that all sorts of people passed through the depot at Guthrie.

Related post: Guthrie, KY: A Railroad Town

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Collagemama said...

Used to live down I35 from Guthrie, Oklahoma. I don't remember where it got it's name. I wonder if both towns were named by the railroads.

Genevieve said...

That sounded like a reasonable guess to me, Collagemama, but when I searched for info on Guthrie, OK's name, I found that it was named for John Guthrie, a Kansas judge. Apparently, the train stop was named Deer Creek for about a month and a half, and then the name was changed to Guthrie.

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