Growing up in Brumfield

August 03, 2003|BRENDA EDWARDS

Clayton Martin was born March 29, 1914, by lamplight in Brumfield where there was nothing except a railroad. Actually, it was the train whistle that prompted him to cry.

"When I was born, I couldn't cry," said Martin. After the whistle blew five times, I cried and cried for three years," he said, jokingly. That's the story his folks told him.

The 89-year-old Martin, who retired from state government when he was 80 years old, talked recently about his life growing up in Brumfield at a Boyle County Genealogical Association meeting.

He remembers that Brumfield was located at Mile Post 84 along the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. The railroad came that way from Louisville just after the Civil War.


His father, Carl Vernon Martin was a rural mail carrier in Boyle, Washington and Marion counties, after the mail route was established in 1908. His mother, Sarah Rankin Martin, was postmistress in the post office located in the pantry of their home.

Mail arrived on trains at the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Depot, then was distributed to nearby towns. Martin said the depot also was a good place to loaf and play horseshoes.

Martin said the old Stewart homeplace, where he grew up, burned many years ago. However, the memories of his childhood there remain vivid in his mind.

"The land is still there and I'm sure my tracks are still in those knobs," he said.

Martin's parents and their three children lived with his mother's parents, George A. "Boss" and Hattie Stewart, until they moved to Perryville.

Grandfather Stewart sold coal and wool. His grandparents also worked at the Mitchellsburg post office. They later moved to Claunch Lane along Chaplin River and ran a store.

"Grandmother said a lot of heavy drinking went on at the store," he said.

The Stewarts descended from the family that settled in Stewartsville community in Mercer County. Grandfather Stewart was 15 years old during the Battle of Perryville and helped bury dead soldiers after the battle, Martin said.

Martin also recalled when chautauquas were held in Danville and Perryville. One of his grandfathers was asked to be a speaker and travel with the group, but declined. Politicians spoke at many of the summer chautauqua programs, where popcorn and cotton candy were plentiful.

As a young man, Martin played the organ at the Mitchellsburg United Methodist Church, where the family attended.

The Martins had one of the only telephone in Brumfield. He remembers the telephone number was 68M and it rang five times for the Martins since it was a party line. Neighbors would come to the house to use the phone.

Martin also recalled when he rode one of the first school buses in Boyle County. He said Bud Price of Mitchellsburg picked up children in the west Boyle County area and transported them to Perryville High School.

"I went to Locust Hall (a one-room school west of Brumfield) one day, then went to Perryville and on to the University of Kentucky."

When Martin went to college, he thinks he may have been the only person in Brumfield to go at that time.

While attending UK, he worked on a thrashing machine for $1 per day and at a grocery store to help pay the $37.50 per semester tuition at UK.

Martin rented a room from Saul Minor of Gravel Switch, who had apartments in Lexington. Martin fired the furnace to pay for his rent.

"If you could make room and board in the 1930s, you were doing good," he said.

Growing up during the Great Depression, there was little money for the Martin family.

"No one had money," he said. "I worked tobacco for 5 cents an hour and in corn for 10 cents an hour. We got paid in coins. We hardly saw a dollar bill."

Martin married Ila Mae Rankin and they had five children: Jim, Bill, Tom and John Martin and Mary Ann Loy. He now lives in Harrodsburg.

After college, Martin was accepted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but did not take the job because of an arm injury from playing baseball. He worked 25 years at Corning Glass Works, then after retirement he worked in the finance department with state government in Frankfort until the mid-1990s.

Martin still is working. He has helped care for Hillcrest Cemetery in Perryville 40 years, starting after his father gave up the job after doing it for 40 years.

Central Kentucky News Articles