Wallins Creek: An American Town Nestled in Southeast Kentucky
Benjamin Jones, author
My book chronicles my family story, along with stories and information from fellow Creekers to give you glimpses of life in this small American town from the 1950's. There’s a part of Kentucky where they raise fast thoroughbreds on beautiful rolling horse farms, but I’m not from there. I’m from the hard-scrabble place where nothing ever came easy. I’m from the place where families scratched out a living on old rocky hillside farms, and where men crawled into the belly of the mountain with a pickaxe to gouge out the coal. I’m from Eastern Kentucky. I’m from the hard part. The magic of Wallins Creek, a small American town nestled in the mountains of Southeast Kentucky, is that it becomes an integral part of us. The cool water streams down from our majestic mountains into a creek that travels through our little town and mysteriously works its way into our DNA, and then passes it down from one generation to the next. It transforms us all into Creekers. Some stay and others scatter across America. We all come back often to commune with the streams, the mountains, and our people. This, along with the values and principles learned in Wallins Creek makes us all uniquely, American. I was the 7th of 10 kids born into a dirt-poor family from Wallins Creek in Southeastern Kentucky on August 13, 1942. I never knew I was just a poor mountain boy until we moved to Ohio in 1955. My mother, Fanny Howard-Jones, was a proud woman with an enormous capacity for being resourceful. She came from a great man, Samuel Howard, who served in the Revolutionary War that freed us from King George. Creekers own the mountains, the trees, the spouts, and the streams of cool water that glide down the valleys and meet at the creek and then wander off to the Great Cumberland River. It is like the blood that flows through our veins and feeds our soul. We own the beech and hickory nut trees … the wildflowers and berry bushes … the sweet paw paws and tart persimmons … the fragrant laurel and the cool soft moss … the sagebrush and goldenrod … and specially those very private places surrounded by fences loaded with briars where we bury our kin. Being a Creeker gives you the right to wander and roam the mountains just as our parents and grandparents and theirs’ before them did. Creekers exemplify the tough, ingenious, honor bound, family centered, independent, strong, and pure goodness of mountain people. These small American towns are dying along with the Biblical values and principles that awakened a Nation and set man on a remarkable path in pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.