Thursday, August 3, 2017

Day 1834: Six degrees separation to a hermit?

Great Grandma, old photo, collage & digital

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My Grandpa owned a farm in Indiana.
As long as I can remember, I heard stories about 
the hermit who had lived in Grandpa's woods.
It came up on the recent Indiana visit & I was enthralled, again.
I remember my Mom mentioning being in the log cabin once.
Her memory was of the thick layers of newspaper on the walls.
I would be "all ears" whenever the subject came up.
So in case you might share my interest, I'll share a bit.
A legend of years past ... the Boone County Hermit.

Warren Massey & his dog, 1922  (1867-1944)

As a child, it always fascinated me how a grown man 
could decide to live alone in the woods, it still does.
Born in a log cabin in 1867, outside of the town Lebanon,
he was the son of Elizabeth & Hiram Massey.
Known as "Hi", the father, a laborer, was said to have ...
"looked too much on the wine when it is red."
Warren also shared his father's attraction.
On a cold 1892 night, Warren & a friend hiked into Lebanon.
Making the rounds of the town's saloons, 
the severely drunken pair then tried to walk home.
Freezing wind exposure caused both men to develop pneumonia.
Warren's friend died, and after a risky, prolonged illness, 
Warren survived to vow, that "never again 
would he go near a place where liquor was sold."

Warren's cabin, 1940 Taken by Aunt Martha

He kept that vow for over 50 years, given permission,  he lived 
in a 14 x 16' cabin in the 20 acre woods of Grandpa's farm.
Referencing a 25c, June 1975 copy of Boone magazine ... 
in an article by Ralph W. Stark, it is said that 
Warren could neither read or write. He was said to have an 
innate intelligence, skills at cards, music & marksmanship.

Warren Massey, 1940 by Aunt Martha

 I usually think of a hermit as a loner, or anti-social. 
Evidently Warren was well liked. He lived simply.
His wants were few, his expenses minimal.
He helped local farmers with their crops, had a garden, 
chickens, trapped & sold furs. He did odd jobs & traded goods.
He bought groceries from the "huckster" who traveled the
Ratsburg Road with staples, coffee, sugar, salt etc. for farms.

Warren Massey & dog, age 73, October 1940. in his cabin.

Late one evening, in 1942, in failing health, 
two friends drove Warren through Lebanon
to move in & live with a sister in Rockville
taking along his dog, fiddle & a few trinkets.
He insisted on night time & he ducked down 
so as not to see the town as they passed through.
He wasn't anti-social, he was anti-saloon. 
He died at age 77 in 1944.
The aged cabin, weakened & in bad repair was burned.


For FB Throwback Thursday ...

Young WW, age 10, 1983, Big Bear, CA

A smile for Thursday ...

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