On the eve of his eightieth birthday, Grover Cleveland Achors wrote a letter to his hometown newspaper, The Pioneer News, in which he shared his memories of growing up in the Knob Creek area of Bullitt County, and much of what had happened to him since then. With the letter, he included a poem that reflected his life's journey. The letter and poem are transcribed below from the March 25, 1965 edition of the newspaper as a fitting tribute to a man who never forgot his roots and what they meant to him.
Grover was a son of Jacob and Martha (Beghtol) Achors who married in Bullitt County on 24 Nov 1882. As Grover notes in his letter, his mother died, and his father married Nancy J. (Snawder) Young, widow of W. R. Young. Then Jacob died in 1897, leaving Grover and his sister Maud to live with relatives. We will let Grover tell his story from there.
I thought I would celebrate my 80th Birthday by writing a letter to my home-town paper. On March 29th, 1885, I was born in Bullitt County, in the Knob Creek area, and a little over a mile from what was then the Post Office at Barrallton. My mother died when I was four years of age, my father married again and we lived in several places before he died in 1897. At that time we were living on a place that was owned by Mr. George Simmons. If you can see the top of Bullitts Lick Hill and a couple of miles north from your office you will be looking at my playground when I was a small boy.
After my father died I had to live anywhere I could get food and shelter, and I had a very rough time of it until I joined the Army in 1905. They sent me to the West Coast and in 1906 my Regiment was sent to San Francisco on relief duty when the big earthquake and fire struck. After that was over I went to school a couple of years and in 1908 my Regiment was ordered to the Phillippines and we remained there until 1910, but I went back again in 1911 and came home in 1912. In 1914 we were ordered to Alaska. I was a Sergeant in my company at the time and in 1916 I married a Bullitt County girl, however, the marriage was of very short duration. In 1917 when World War I started I was sent to Officers Training School in San Francisco; and I came out of it with a Commission as a Second Lieutenant but I never had a chance to go to France. I was discharged from the Army in 1918. In 1920 work was not so plentiful so I got a job on a boat in Portland, Oregon and took a little trip to Yokohama, Kobe, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Manila and then back to Portland. After that I worked at many different kinds of jobs. Finally in 1937 I got married again and we bought a small farm near Seattle, Washington, but when the War started I got in the Auxillary Military Police and was promoted to Sergeant. My wife went to work at the Boeing Airplane Factory. We both quit our jobs in 1945 because we thought if the older people did that it would give the boys coming home a better chance to get work. I went to work at Boeings in 1947 and remained there until I retired in 1952 at the age of 67. In 1953 we sold our farm and moved to Chico, California. But in 1963 my wife had a stroke, her daughters from Seattle came down and took her home with them but she died in Oct. 14th, 1963. I came back to Chico because I have many wonderful friends here. It is a beautiful little city of about 17,000 and the climate is wonderful, so I just came back and bought a nice little comfortable home, of course it is a little lonesome at times but I try to keep busy. Most of my relatives are gone now but I think I have three or four cousins and several nephews and nieces in Bullitt and Jefferson Counties. I was back there in 1960 but due to an accident in Chicago when I stopped off to see my sister I was not able to stay as long as I had planned, however, I did get to see my cousins Herman Pearl [son of mother's sister, Elmira Beghtol Pearl] and Howard Beghtol [son of mother's brother, Elvin Beghtol]. I have many pleasant recollections of my childhood in Kentucky, and I often think of my school teachers, Miss Katie Martin, Hettie Ridgeway, Clara Miller, Ollie Barrall and my uncle Horace Atkinson, and I must not forget our County Superintendent of schools, Mr. Jeff Lee, we all loved him.
In sending you this letter and little poem I am not trying to compete with Stephen Collins Foster who wrote the beautiful song, "My Old Kentucky Home" a short distance from your place, and if you print it at all I would never look for it on the front page. I am also sure that the Governor would not think of making me a Kentucky Colonel, even though I am a native son, because my vocabulary is very limited, my phraseology is ridiculous and my typing is terrible, but I would like to point out that no matter how far from home I happened to be I always had a warm spot in my heart for the hills in Kentucky where I used to play.
Very Best Wishes From
Grover C. Achors
CHILDHOOD IN KENTUCKY
When I was just a little boy,
I loved to climb the rugged hills,
And my old dog Shep was always near
to share my many thrills.
He chased the Chipmunk to his den,
barked at the squirrels above
And he really seemed delighted
at the cooing of a dove.
We explored each cave and crevice
in search of shiny stones,
And the beauty all around us,
we claimed as our very own.
But when our legs grew weary
and we stopped for a little rest
The birds were sure to scold us
if we got too near their nest.
But now, I'm growing older
and my hair has all turned gray,
Yet those childhood memories linger
as though it were yesterday.
I remember the Gum and Poplar trees
that grew so straight and tall,
And the thrill I got from the babbling brook
and miniature waterfall.
The snakes and frogs were unafraid,
but they cast a wary eye
As I climbed the trees and jumped the logs
in pursuit of a butterfly.
But when the Sun was getting low
and the crickets began to peep
I knew it was time for home and bed
and night of restful sleep.
Now, in the twilight of my life,
my heart is filled with joy
As I recall those happy days
when I was a little boy.
I dreamed of places far away
that I would soon explore,
Or bask beneath a cloudless sky
on some enchanted shore.
But even on a Tropic Isle
ten thousand miles from home,
Or in the frozen northland
on the barren beach at Nome
My thoughts would often swiftly fly
to the hills I love so well
And there, like a giant magnet,
they held me in their spell.
Grover Cleveland Achors died in Chico, California on 8 Sep 1973. He is buried, alongside his wife Nellie, in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Warren County, Ohio. May his words be a fitting memory for all the children who loved those hills of Bullitt County.
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